Zika Virus Confirmed in Traveler Who Returned to U.S. From Latin America

Health officials urge prevention to reduce risk.

Zika virus has been confirmed in a traveler from Texas who recently returned from Latin America, according to a statement from the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services Department in Texas. 

“Prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection”, Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director of HCPHES said in the statement. “Zika virus infections occur throughout the world. We encourage individuals traveling to areas where the virus has been identified to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and to contact their healthcare provider immediately if they develop Zika virus-like symptoms.” 

The individual developed symptoms that are often associated with the Zika virus, which include: fever, rash, and joint pain and the person’s illness was later confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Zika virus is spread through the bite of the Aedes species mosquito. 

According to CDC, illness from Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection. 

The CDC recommends that all people, especially pregnant women, who are traveling to areas where Zika virus is found, should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to reduce their risk of infection of Zika virus as well as other mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and chikungunya. The CDC recently issued a travel warning after the first locally-acquired case of Zika was reported in Puerto Rico.