Richmond, Va. (WTKR) - The Virginia Department of Health has confirmed that an adult resident of Virginia has been infected with the Zika virus after traveling to a country where the virus transmission is ongoing.
The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The illness is usually mild, but severe cases have been known to require hospitalization.
"Now it’s spreading to more parts of the world and at the same time the international global travel is so much more now than it used to be. So the chances of getting it from one part of the world to another are much higher now than they used to be," Dr. Nancy Khardori, an EVMS Professor of Microbiology and Immunology told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Wednesday.
Because it is not mosquito season in Virginia, there is no risk to other residents, according to State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine.
The CDC previously issued a level 2 travel alert for people traveling to regions and certain countries were the Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
When traveling to countries where Zika virus has been reported, all travelers should take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using use insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
According to Dr. Khardori, the big concern has been the link to developmental issues in babies.
"Ever since it got introduced into Brazil there are seeing more cases of a congenital condition in babies called Microcephaly. They either die in the uterus or after birth if they do survive they live a very handicapped life," Dr. Khardori explained.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms can last from several days to a week. There is no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat Zika virus infection.
Eastern Virginia Medical School's OBGYN Department released the following information on the Zika Virus:
The EVMS OBGYN Department has been closely following the news on the Zika Virus and monitoring reports of maternal infection and the risk for fetal and newborn transmission of the virus. Mothers infected with Zika virus are presenting with fever, malaise, arhtralgia, conjunctivitis, and a maculopapular rash. Ultrasound assessment of fetal growth and anatomy has revealed an increased risk for growth restriction, microcephaly and cerebral calcifications. As such, we are following the current US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in our evaluation of pregnant mothers.
- We recommend screening all pregnant mothers who have traveled to Zika infected areaswithihn the past few weeks. This currently includes most of South and Central America and several of the Carribean Islands including Puerto Rico. As of today no locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the Continental United States. Cases in the United States are from travelers returning from Zika infected areas. However, there are reports of locally transmitted cases in Puerto Rico and the virus is likely to spread over time.
- Obstetricians should consult Infectious Disease physicians and Maternal-Fetal Medicine should their pregnant patients who have recently returned from Zika infected areas develop symptoms or have ultrasound findings concerning for microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. These patients will be tested for the Zika virus (test mother's serum for Zika virus IgM and neutralizing antibodies as well as dengue virus IgM and neutralizing antibodies). Testing is not recommended for women without a travel history.
- Pregnant patients with evidence of Zika virus infection should receive serial ultrasound examinations to evaluate fetal growth and anatomy. There is no current antiviral treatment and care is largely supportive.
- At delivery umbilical cord blood testing is recommended as well as histopathologic evaluation of the placenta.
Pediatric notification for further testing of the infant and long-term follow up is recommended.