March 10, 2016

State Confirms First Case of Zika Virus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau forPublic Health (BPH) today received laboratory confirmation of the State’s firstcase of the Zika virus.

“With the number of Zika outbreaks occurring in many partsof the world where West Virginians travel for vacation, business or missionwork, the likelihood of a finding a Zika case in our State was foreseeable,”said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau forPublic Health.  “The confirmed case involves an adult male and resident ofClay County who traveled to Haiti.  He is no longer exhibiting symptomsand has made a full recovery.”

Currently, there has been no local transmission of diseasereported in the United States.  Cases in the U.S. have only been found inreturn travelers who were bitten by the infected mosquito while travelingabroad.

“It’s important to remember that four out of five personswho have the Zika virus experience no symptoms at all, and of those who do experiencesymptoms they are usually mild and recover fully,” said Gupta.  “However,if you are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant around the time youwill be traveling to parts of the world where Zika virus is occurring, youshould consider postponing trips to those areas at this time.  Othertravelers should be vigilant in taking appropriate mosquito bite preventiveactions such as using repellents and wearing pants and long sleeves.

Concernsurrounding the Zika virus is focused on pregnant women who could have babieswith microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder, where an infant’s head issignificantly smaller than children of the same age.  Residents who areconcerned that they may be infected with the Zika virus should contact theirhealthcare provider if they develop the symptoms described above following avisit to an area overseas where Zika is found.  Zika virus is notcirculating in West Virginia.

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite ofan infected Aedes species mosquito.  For those who become ill, themost common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis(red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several daysto a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

As part of preparations for the State’s first case of Zikavirus, BPH has been working with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and other federal partners to monitor Zika virus testing and guidance toensure health care providers and local health departments have the appropriateinformation.