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Virginia resident tests positive for Zika virus after traveling to Zika-affected country

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Department of Health has confirmed a case of Zika virus in an adult who recently traveled to a country where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

This is the first reported, laboratory-confirmed case in a traveler returning to Virginia.

“Zika virus is acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito. Because it is not mosquito season in Virginia, this individual with Zika virus infection poses no risk to other Virginians,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine.

“However, this is the time of year when more people do travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found. Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to consider postponing travel to Zika-affected countries while pregnant. In addition, we are urging everyone, especially pregnant women, to check health travel advisories before leaving the United States and to take preventive measures when traveling in affected areas of the world.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Zika virus illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, but advises there is a possible association between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

The mosquito-borne disease has raged in South America and other regions for several months.

The CDC urged pregnant women to postpone travel to Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The CDC also recommended that women who have recently traveled to these places during their pregnancy be screened and monitored for the virus.

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.

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. More information about Zika virus can be found on the CDC website.