First case of Zika virus confirmed in Utah, child traveled from affected country

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SALT LAKE CITY - The first case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Utah.

Utah public health officials said they received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a Utah resident has tested positive for the Zika virus.

The patient, a child between the ages of 2 and 10 years old, recently traveled to an affected country before returning to Utah, according to the Utah Department of Health.Zika virus mosquito

Officials said the child had symptoms, including the typical rash and has not experienced any complications.

Utah-based company developing test to detect Zika virus

“It isn’t surprising that Utah has an imported case of Zika virus since so many of our residents travel to and from areas where the disease is currently being transmitted,” Dr. Allyn Nakashima said, State Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.

She said, “Zika virus, with the possible link to the birth defect microcephaly, is understandably frightening.”

Since there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, and no specific medical treatment for those who are infected, the UDOH is urging all who may be considering travel to the growing number of affected countries to take the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Health officials said the Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. zika mosquitoes 1

The mosquito that is spreading the virus in the affected countries is not currently found in Utah.

The disease isn’t fatal, but pregnant women are especially at risk.

“The Zika virus has been linked to the baby having a small head. It’s called microcephaly, said registered nurse Alfred Romeo.

Romeo, who runs the Utah Department of Health’s Pregnancy Risk Line MotherToBaby program, is urging pregnant women who call in to hold off on traveling Zika-affected countries.

“If they must travel to those areas for work or other needs, make sure they’re protecting themselves from those mosquitoes that are down there,” he said.

Congressman Chris Stewart has introduced the Zika Response and Safety Act, which would allow federal agencies like the CDC and Department of Health to immediately use funding to research and fight Zika.

Stewart’s bill would take money previously allocated to fight the Ebola virus in 2014 and allow the federal agencies to use it to find a vaccine for the Zika Virus.

Stewart said $2.7 billion is left over from the Ebola funding.

Click here for the CDC's most current list of countries affected by Zika virus.

Zika can be sexually transmitted, although there is limited data about the risk.

Health experts said the virus generally only causes fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, and is almost always a very mild illness.

Most people won’t require testing; about 80 percent of those infected never show any symptoms of the disease, while approximately 20 percent will have only mild symptoms.

Five things to know about the Zika virus

Public health officials encourage pregnant women to postpone traveling to affected areas, if possible, or talk to their health care provider before considering travel.

For anyone who is planning to visit the affected countries, prevention is the best approach to avoiding Zika virus infection.

The Utah Dept. of Health said steps to prevent mosquito bites include using insect repellents containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and removing standing water where mosquitoes live and breed.

The UDOH and CDC said they are closely monitoring the situation.

Click here for more information on Zika virus and how to protect yourself.

Women who are pregnant and have questions about Zika virus can call the MotherToBaby program at 800-822-2229, text 855-999-3525, or chat live or email here.

4 comments

  • John Guy

    Wait one minute all my Brazilian friends? See news about collapsed mining dam !

    The evidence linking Zika to microcephaly is circumstantial. The real reason may be a case of mercury or another toxin poisoning. Most of Brazil’s microcephaly cases are in the northeast. Brazilian love eating fish and gold mining, and off shore drilling. Check your water systems, rivers and food supplies.

    The Brazilian health ministry has yet to present any scientifically credible evidence to support their conclusion about the Zika virus. They found one correlation, threw up their hands and yelled, “Mosquito.” Correlation is not causation.

    Why haven’t they also shown up in proportional numbers in other countries hit hard by Zika, such as Colombia? How many normal babies also have the Zika virus?

    See: The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science website.

    Knowledge about the extreme vulnerability of the fetus to methylmercury began with the Minamata Bay, Japan experience. Eating the fish, pregnant mothers did not only burden themselves, but methylmercury was transferred in utero to the fetus. This caused severe neurological complex symptoms and severe birth defects. While the mothers were usually without symptoms of mercury poisoning, their babies were born severely damaged with microcephaly, cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation.

    See news reports

    A wave of toxic mud travelling down the Rio Doce river in Brazil from a collapsed mining dam has reached the Atlantic Ocean, amid concerns it will cause severe pollution.

    The contaminated mud, tested by the water management authorities, was found to contain toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, chromium and manganese at levels exceeding human consumption levels.

    Date of Dam collapse story -22 November 2015

    • Rick

      You can always wait to see what happens in southern Utah and northern New Mex after the Gold King waste purge ending up in culinary and agricultural waterways. Of course that orange muck was just a thicker concentration of what the mines in the area have been leaching off since the holes were first dug. Bottom’s up!

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