Sullivan County has first travel-related Zika virus case

LIBERTY – A person from Sullivan County has a case of travel-related Zika virus, county Public Health Services announced late Friday. The individual recently traveled to South America where Zika virus is common, county officials said.

“There is no local transmission of Zika virus from mosquitoes in Sullivan County, and there are no mosquitoes of the species type that can transmit the Zika virus in Sullivan County identified by surveillance performed by the New York State Department of Health,” said Nancy McGraw, the director of Sullivan County Health.

She said the risk “is very minimal here for transmission of Zika virus to local residents or visitors from a mosquito bite.”

Officials said there is greater potential for the virus to be acquired by county residents traveling to affected regions and other countries. Pregnant women and women of childbearing age should be aware of the potential risks and talk with their health care provider prior to travel.

Zika is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito in South and Central America and other countries with warm climates where mosquitoes are widespread. Although this type of mosquito is not present in New York, a related species is active in the downstate region and could potentially carry Zika and is thus being monitored by the state health department. Parts of Texas and southern Florida have also had cases where people were infected with Zika by mosquito bites.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Symptoms can begin two to seven days or within four weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can last from several days to a week.

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The symptoms are usually very mild, and many people might not realize they have been infected. There have been reports, though, of increased cases of a birth defect known as microcephaly that may be associated with Zika virus infection among pregnant women.

Zika can be spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn child, and is associated with reports of certain birth defects. If you are pregnant and have a male partner who has travelled or lives in areas with Zika virus, it is recommended to abstain from sex, or use condoms, for all sexual activities during your entire pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before traveling to an area with Zika virus transmission.