First case of Zika virus reported in Connecticut

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HARTFORD -- The first case of the Zika virus has been reported in the state of Connecticut, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The patient is in her 60s and recently traveled to a Zika-affected area of South America. She started feeling ill on the day of her return earlier this month and experienced a skin rash, conjunctivitis, fatigue, chills, headache and muscle aches.

"We really don't foresee any transmission from this individual to the general public and we hope that she recovers rather fast," said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino. "The mosquito that normally transmits this disease is not present in Connecticut. We have a second species that it is present in small numbers in the southern part of the state and that's why our measures also include mosquito control."

The state has received 198 samples from patients to be tested for the Zika virus, and has returned results on 67 of those samples. This was the first positive result.

"It's inevitable that we are going to have more cases," Pino added. "The question is what kind of transmission those cases are going to have for us. I think in Connecticut what we are going to see the most is travelers, and then we have to also be concerned about sexual transmission in the future if we have more cases. With regards to tests, we are conducting the first layer of tests and the lab is also getting ready to develop the second layer of testing."

The Zika virus is usually spread through mosquito bites, but the World Health Organization announced earlier this month that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than first thought.

Last month Gov. Dan Malloy announced that the state had organized a multi-department coordination to respond to the threat of the virus.

“The more planning and preparation we do now, the more successful we’ll be in our response, if needed, later. We’ve developed a road map for a coordinated response by state agencies to any potential threat posed by Zika,” Gov. Malloy said at the time.  “We’re working cross-functionally, across agencies, to ensure that we are being proactive and to ensure that we are as prepared as we possibly can be. It’s our obligation to protect residents, and we will be ready with a coordinated response if it’s required.”

The state plan included:

  • Public education on how to prevent becoming infected with Zika virus
  • Clinician outreach regarding what is known about the health consequences of infection
  • Laboratory testing of pregnant women who have travelled to areas where Zika virus is circulating is currently available by the Federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and will become available at the State Public Health Laboratory
  • Surveillance for Zika virus associated illnesses in humans including birth defects
  • Mosquito  surveillance for the presence of Aedes albopictus, a species related to Aedes aegypti which is not present in Connecticut
  • Mosquito management focused on source reduction especially in communities where Aedes albopictus has been identified during prior mosquito seasons

Click here to learn more about the state's plan.

A state Department of Public Health laboratory was approved on February 29 to start testing for Zika so that we could locally get expedited results. Before the samples would have to be sent to other laboratories, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's laboratory in Atlanta.

DPH reminds pregnant women in any trimester to consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, specifically Central and South America.  Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant who do travel to any of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

The WHO estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year. So far, 258 cases have been reported across 34 states and Washington D.C., all of which were acquired out of the country.

Click here for tips on how to protect yourself from the virus, especially if you're planning on traveling to Central or South America and plan to get pregnant soon.