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NKY Traveler Tests Positive for Zika Virus

Friday, June 24, 2016

With the first case of Zika virus in Northern Kentucky recently confirmed in a Boone County man, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. The infected individual has a history of travel to an area where Zika virus has been found, and was diagnosed upon his return.

A total of 820 cases of Zika virus have been reported in U.S. states and the District of Columbia as of June 22, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes six cases from Kentucky. All cases reported to date in the U.S. have been associated with travel to a Zika-affected area.

“Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.”

The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people may not realize they have been infected. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other brain abnormalities in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

  To prevent additional travel-associated cases, the Health Department recommends the following:

“It is possible for Zika to be transmitted to our local mosquitoes by infected travelers—even those who do not have symptoms,” said Saddler. “Infected mosquitoes could then transmit the virus to other people, so it’s also key that Northern Kentuckians take steps to prevent mosquito bites at home as well,” said Saddler.

Precautions at home include:

            For more information, including fact sheets and additional resources for pregnant women and travelers, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/zika.aspx.

 

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Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or Emily.Gresham-Wherle@nkyhealth.org, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

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For statewide news releases, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.