First Zika case acquired through sexual transmission reported in Ohio

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host.

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 61-year-old Lucas County Woman is the first person in Ohio to be diagnosed with the Zika virus contracted through sexual transmission.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the woman’s husband traveled to a country with active Zika transmission and tested positive for the virus.

Both new Zika virus cases bring Ohio’s total confirmed cases to 16. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that in U.S. states and the District of Columbia there are 755 travel-associated Zika virus cases, another 12 Zika cases acquired through sexual transmission, and no cases locally acquired through bites from infected mosquitoes.

“Travelers to areas with active Zika virus transmission should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, which is the primary way you can contract the virus,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health. “When travelers return home, they should follow CDC guidance to prevent sexual transmission of the virus, especially to pregnant women or women or may become pregnant.”

CDC’s guidance is based on evidence of a link between Zika virus and certain birth defects:

  • Couples in which the man has confirmed Zika virus or has symptoms of the infection should wait at least six months after symptoms began before having unprotected sex. During that timeframe, the couple should consider using a condom or abstaining from sexual activity. If the woman is pregnant, this applies for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Couples in which the man travels to a Zika-affected area but returns without symptoms of the virus should consider using a condom or abstaining from sexual activity for at least eight weeks after his possible exposure.
  • Couples with possible Zika virus exposure who want to try to get pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider.

While Zika virus can spread through sexual transmission, there is no indication that it can spread from person to person through casual contact, according to health officials.

Of people infected with the Zika virus, 80 percent do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they are often mild, lasting from several days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and headache. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. However, there is an association between Zika virus and certain birth defects.

State and local public health officials in Ohio have been preparing since January for Zika virus, making sure that mosquito control efforts were in place for mosquito season, and conducting a public awareness campaign to raise awareness about the virus and the importance of preventing mosquito-borne and sexual transmission of the virus.

For more information about the Zika virus including sexual transmission, go to www.odh.ohio.gov.

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