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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

North Idaho woman develops Zika virus

From staff reports

A North Idaho woman who recently traveled to Mexico was infected with the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects in children born to women with the virus.

The woman, who is over 60, is the first reported case of Zika virus infection in the state, with Idaho becoming the 47th state to report a travel-related Zika virus infection this year, according to state and local health officials. The woman reportedly had symptoms but did not require hospitalization.

A pregnant woman in Spokane County was diagnosed with the Zika virus earlier this year, but she gave birth to a healthy child. The woman also was infected while she was traveling out of the country, according to the Spokane Regional Health District.

The Zika virus is most commonly spread through the bite of Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are not found in Idaho.

Only about 1 in 5 people exposed to the virus develop symptoms, which are usually mild and last from a few days to a week. Fever, rash, muscle and joint aches, and pinkeye are the most common symptoms. However, Zika can cause serious birth defects in babies whose mothers are infected during pregnancy. There is no preventive vaccine for the Zika virus.

The virus is not spread through casual contact, but can be spread through sexual contact by both men and women. People who have recently traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission should either use a condom or avoid sex to reduce the risk of infecting another person, according to the Panhandle Health District.

Aedes mosquitoes are daytime biters that prefer temperate and tropical climates. Travelers should take precautions to avoid bites, including wearing long-sleeved shirts and using insect repellent when visiting areas where the virus is present. Zika-carrying mosquitoes have been found in a small area of north Miami in Florida, and in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and Pacific islands.

Since January, more than 1,650 Zika cases have been reported nationwide. Almost all of those cases are related to travel outside the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Florida health officials recently said 15 cases are believed to have occurred from local mosquitoes north of Miami.

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