Idaho woman tests positive for Zika virus; first reported case in the Gem State

Posted at 12:42 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 14:42:30-04

A north Idaho woman who recently traveled to Mexico is confirmed to have been infected with the Zika virus -- which can cause severe birth defects if infection occurs in pregnant women, according to the Idaho Health and Welfare Department.

The woman was only identified as being over the age of 60.

“This 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.  The woman reportedly had symptoms, but did not require hospitalization,’ said Health and Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan, 

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is most commonly spread through mosquitoes which are not found in Idaho.

“Because of this, there is no danger to the general public of the virus circulating through casual contact,” Shanahan emphasized.

Only one in five people exposed to the virus usually develop any symptoms, which are usually mild and last from a few days to a week after infection. The most common symptoms of infection are fever, rash, muscle and joint aches, and pinkeye, health experts say.

Zika is known to cause serious birth defects and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies whose mothers are infected during pregnancy. There is no preventive vaccine for Zika virus. 

If you plan to travel to an area where Zika virus is circulating, public health officials recommend you protect yourself from mosquito bites by:

-Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
-Using EPA-registered insect repellents
-Using permethrin-treated clothing and gear
-Staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms

Since January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 1,658 Zika disease cases nationwide. Almost all of those cases are related to travel outside the United States. During the last week, Florida announced 14 cases believed to be contracted from local mosquitoes in a small area of north Miami.

Idaho has had no confirmed cases of Zika virus infection reported prior to this case.