LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting the third confirmed case of Zika virus in a Clark County resident. The patient is an adult female who recently traveled to the Dominican Republic. Previously reported cases include an adult male who traveled to Guatemala and an adult female with a travel history to Brazil. To date, the Health District has tested 28 individuals for the virus and received 22 results.
”We continue to expect cases of the Zika virus to be reported in Southern Nevada,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer for the Southern Nevada Health District.
“The recent announcement of a definitive link between the virus as the cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects reinforces the need to communicate the risks for pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and their partners,” said Iser.
In its announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that no single piece of evidence provided conclusive proof that Zika virus infection is a cause of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects. The conclusion was supported after careful evaluation of a number of recently published studies and using established scientific criteria. The CDC further states that while a woman infected with Zika during pregnancy is at increased risk of having a baby with health problems, it does not mean that all women will have babies with health problems. Currently, the CDC has not changed its guidance regarding this issue.
The Health District advises anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to Zika virus, and who has traveled to an area where the virus is circulating, to consult with a health care provider. A Zika virus diagnosis is based on travel history, clinical signs and symptoms, and laboratory blood tests. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease, and there is no specific treatment for the infection.
In addition to mosquito bites, Zika virus can be spread from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, and it can spread during sex from a man to his partners. Spread of the virus through blood transfusion has also been reported and is being investigated.
The Health District continues to stress the Zika virus is primarily spread though the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. This species of mosquito has not currently been identified in Southern Nevada. The Health District’s Vector Surveillance Program is equipped to trap and identify these specific species, as they have been found in neighboring states.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Additional symptoms can include muscle pain and headache. The virus is usually mild, and four out of five people infected will not know they have the disease. Patients usually don’t require hospitalization, and Zika rarely results in death.
People traveling to areas where Zika is known to be spreading should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Additionally, the CDC is recommending that all travelers returning from an area with Zika take steps to prevent mosquito bites for up to three weeks, even if they do not feel sick. Men returning from areas with Zika, even without symptoms, are advised that if they have pregnant partners they should wear condoms the right way every time they have sex during the pregnancy, and with all partners.
Up-to-date CDC recommendations and travel advisories are available on the CDC website. From this point, subsequent confirmed cases and case counts in Clark County will be posted on the Southern Nevada Health District website www.SNHD.info.
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