Health Care

First case of Zika virus comes to Vermont

The Vermont Department of Health has announced the first case of someone in the state being diagnosed with Zika, a virus often spread by certain mosquitoes found in tropical regions or by unprotected sex with a man.

The department issued a news release Friday saying the person developed the virus while traveling to a place affected by Zika. The department would not release the location of the person, citing health privacy.

Patsy Kelso, the epidemiologist for the Department of Health, said scientists currently know that the Zika virus can be spread from the bite of an infected mosquito, through unprotected sex with an infected man, or from a pregnant woman to her fetus, leading to brain damage in the baby.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the virus is active in Mexico, most of Central America, most of South America and parts of Africa — tropical regions where the Aedes species of mosquito lives.

There are cases of Zika in most of the continental U.S., but they all contracted the virus while traveling, according to the CDC. Cases in U.S. territories came from local contact, according to Kelso.

"Based on what we know now, the mosquitoes that are in Vermont are not likely to transmit Zika virus," Kelso said. "We've been expecting to see travel-related cases of Zika and expect there will be more.”

“We are advising Vermonters who are planning to travel to check to see if their destination is a Zika-affected area, and to take all precautions against mosquito bites. We advise women who are pregnant or could become pregnant to not travel to these areas."

The department said there is no public health risk from this case of Zika.

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Erin Mansfield

About Erin

Erin Mansfield covers health care and business for VTDigger. From 2013 to 2015, she wrote for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. Erin holds a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she also attended journalism school. Erin has worked in public and private schools across Vermont and interned in the U.S. Senate. She has been published by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Society of Professional Journalists. She grew up in Killington.

Email: [email protected]

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