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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Knox County Man Tests Positive for Zika Virus

March 15, 2016 - 12:27 PM

MOUNT VERNON - Four weeks after having his blood sent for testing, the Knox County Health Department has informed a local resident the test was positive for the Zika virus. The 54-year old man, who vacationed in Aruba, began displaying symptoms upon return to the U.S. and was tested at the health department in early February.    

Zika virus is primarily transmitted through a mosquito bite. Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they are often mild, lasting from several days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and headache. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Since the beginning of the year, Zika has spread throughout Latin America where it is has caused an increase in miscarriages and a condition known as microcephaly, in which  babies are born with abnormally small heads.

“There is no vaccine available for Zika virus so it’s important for anyone traveling to affected areas to take steps to prevent mosquito bites,” said Mary Derr, BSN, director of nursing at the health department. “Especially with Spring Break approaching, travelers should check CDC travel advisories for their destinations and take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes.” Precautions include: wearing long sleeved shirts and pants; using an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET; and staying or sleeping in screened-in or air conditioned rooms.

While there is no indication that Zika can spread from person to person through casual contact. CDC has confirmed a U.S. case of Zika virus infection in a nontraveler after the person’s sexual partner returned from an affected country and developed symptoms.

Due to the possible association between Zika virus infections in pregnant women and certain birth defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have recommended that pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant postpone travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission, including the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Men who have traveled to those areas are advised to abstain from sex or use a condom with a pregnant partner. 

“There have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmission through mosquito bites anywhere in the U.S., including Ohio,” said Nate Overholt, environmental health director. “And at this time, no mosquito species in Ohio are known to carry the Zika virus” 

Yet, mosquitoes in Ohio can be carriers of other dangerous diseases like West Nile Virus and Encephalitis. “Warmer weather will be here soon and when we get into the mosquito season, people will need to be more careful not to attract mosquitoes to their property or in their house,” said Overholt. “It’s always important to make sure there isn't any standing water around your house such as birth baths, gutters and spare tires. Make sure that the door and window screens are in good shape, and put on repellent if you're going to be out during the biting times of dusk and dawn.”  In Ohio, mosquito season runs from May to October.

The CDC has reported 192 travel-associated cases of Zika virus in 32 states and the District of Columbia. The Knox County case is the eighth case in Ohio.

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