SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah child who recently traveled to an affected country has been diagnosed with Zika virus and marked the first case in the state, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Utah Department of Health said the patient is between the ages of 2 and 10 years.

Health officials said the child had not experienced any complications beyond the typical Zika symptoms, such as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. About 80 percent of patients never experience any sings of the virus, whereas 20 percent of those infected will show mild symptoms.

The Utah Department of Health recommend preventing mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using repellents with DEET and removing standing water, where mosquitos live and breed. Photo: Newsweek

“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,” said Dr. Allyn Nakashima, State Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH).

There is no risk of transmission of the disease by the child, according to Dallin Peterson, Utah epidemiologist for the Zika virus. He said that this is the first confirmed patient of many possible cases the state has sent to the CDC since December. The CDC Zika tests takes up to three weeks.

Prevention is key to avoid Zika infection

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika and no specific medical treatment for the patients infected. The UDOH is urging all who may be planning to travel to any affected country to take the necessary measures to avoid mosquito bites, since the disease is mainly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

Peterson said this insect that is rapidly spreading the virus in the affected nations has not been found in Utah and that the state’s risk is “very low”. He added that the virus is likely to spread everywhere in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Nakashima said the virus was “understandably frightening” because of the possibility of it being a cause of birth defect microcephaly. Health officials encourage pregnant women to cancel or postpone traveling to affected areas or talk to their doctor before considering travel to those countries where the virus is rapidly spreading.

Since the virus can be sexually transmitted before, during or after showing symptoms, Peterson urged men who have recently traveled to affected countries to use protection during sex or to abstain from intercourse.

The Zika epidemic has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization because of the disease’s link to birth defects and neurological illness. The CDC reported 107 Zika virus cases in the U.S. from people who had traveled to affected countries and returned.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune