Zika Virus in Washington

Washington state now has had its first case of the Zika virus.  The Department of Health confirmed the case in a Mason County man in his 20s who visited the South Pacific.

The man returned to the US about a month ago.  He visited a Thurston County hospital for treatment when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was notified of the case.

Officials have been looking out for the virus since many people travel to the places where Zika is spreading.  The virus is most dangerous to pregnant women as it has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, resulting in small heads and brain damage in infants.  There is no vaccine to prevent the disease.

Symptoms are generally not severe enough for hospitalization, but can include fever, conjunctivitis, skin rash, and joint pain.  Anyone who is infected is advised to avoid mosquito bites, though the type of mosquito that can spread the disease does not live in Washington state.

Travel to areas where mosquito-borne diseases should be delayed if possible.  The particular mosquito that can transmit the virus, the aedes mosquito, is also active during the day, so use repellents and other prevention measures throughout the day and evenings.  The Zika virus can also be spread by blood transfusions, a pregnant woman to her fetus, and a man to his sexual partners.