The Washington State Department of Health received confirmation Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a Mason County man in his 20s who went to a Thurston County hospital is the first person in the state to test positive for Zika virus.
The man recently traveled to the South Pacific.
“Because many people travel to and from places where Zika is spreading, we’ve been expecting to have imported cases of Zika virus disease,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases for the Department of Health, in a news release. “While the Zika virus is of greatest risk to pregnant women, it is understandably concerning to many of us. The good news is this virus spreads through the bite of a type of mosquito we don’t have in Washington state, so it is very unlikely that this virus would spread widely here.”
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus and no specific medical treatment for people who are infected. Heath officials urge anyone considering traveling to countries where the virus is circulating to be aware of the need to protect themselves and others from mosquito bites.
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The CDC has encouraged pregnant women to delay their travel, if possible, and to take mosquito bite prevention very seriously if they must travel to an area where mosquito-borne diseases are circulating. The mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are daytime biters, so it is important to apply prevention measures throughout the day as well as during the evening hours.
Health officials say Zika virus is almost always a very mild illness. About 80 percent of those infected never show symptoms of the disease, while about 1 in 5 people will have only mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes that last a few days to a week.
For more information, go to the Department of Health website at doh.wa.gov.