Virginia resident tests positive for Zika virus

Virginia Department of Health says resident who travelled outside US has been infected with Zika virus, but “poses no risk to other Virginians”

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Mosquito larvae are photographed in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Center (CIDEIM) on January 25, 2016, in Cali, Colombia

A Virginia resident who travelled outside the United States has tested positive for the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, state health officials said on Tuesday.

The adult resident had recently travelled to a country where Zika virus transmission was ongoing and the infection was confirmed through testing by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement.

"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," Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine said in a statement.

The Arkansas Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed that a resident of that state who had also recently travelled out of the country tested positive for Zika.

Levine suggested travellers planning to leave the country this winter for warmer climates check health travel advisories and urged pregnant women in particular to avoid Zika-affected countries.

The virus has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya, which causes mild fever and rash.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation predicted the virus would spread to all countries across the Americas except for Canada and Chile.