By the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan health officials have identified the first confirmed case of Zika virus in a Michigan resident. The patient, a female resident of Ingham County, contracted the virus when traveling in a country where Zika virus is being transmitted. The patient, who was not pregnant, experienced symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease shortly after her return to Michigan.
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes are not found in Michigan, but are widespread in tropical and subtropical areas. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. Symptoms are typically mild and last several days to a week. Many people who are infected will not experience any symptoms. There have been rare reported cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome following Zika virus infection. There have also been rare reports of sexual transmission of Zika virus infection. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.
“This is the time of year when many Michigan residents are traveling to warmer climates. If you have plans to travel to areas where Zika virus is present, take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. If you are pregnant, or may become pregnant, consider postponing your trip,” says Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Travelers to areas where Zika virus is present should contact their doctor if they experience symptoms associated with Zika virus during their trip, or within a week of their return home.”
Pregnant women are most at risk for complications from the Zika virus. Serious birth defects have been reported in children born to women who were infected with Zika virus during pregnancy. Scientists are studying the connection between Zika virus and poor birth outcomes. Until more is known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising pregnant women to avoid travel to countries where Zika virus is circulating. For the most up-to-date information about where Zika virus is found, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.
“For several weeks now, travelers with potential exposure to Zika virus have been returning home to the continental U.S. with a few to be later diagnosed,” said Linda S. Vail, Ingham County Health Officer. “Fortunately, Zika virus infection is typically mild, and people recover without incident. We have known this was a possibility. Health officials and providers have been vigilant in following CDC guidelines and are taking appropriate precautions to test all travelers with symptoms consistent with Zika virus and all pregnant women who have traveled to areas with Zika transmission.”
Prior to 2015, outbreaks of Zika virus have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May of 2015, Brazil reported the first cases of Zika virus in the Americas. The virus has since spread to other countries and territories in South and Central America and the Caribbean. Although Zika is not currently being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States, cases of Zika virus have been reported in returning travelers. The number of Zika cases among travelers returning to the U.S. will likely increase as the outbreak continues.
Michigan residents can avoid mosquito bites when traveling by taking the following precautions:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
Take precautions to avoid bites both during the day and in the evening. The mosquitoes that transmit Zika bite primarily during the day.
Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved product to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent. When applying repellent to children, apply it to your own hands and rub them on the child. Avoid the eyes and mouth and do not apply to children’s hands because they sometimes put their hands in their mouths. Do not apply repellents to infants under 2 months of age and instead place nets over strollers and baby carriers.
For more information about Zika virus, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.