November 28, 2016

Test confirms traveler infected with Zika virus

World Health Organization no longer categorizes Zika virus as Public Health Emergency of International Concern

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed a case of Zika virus found in man who traveled to Mexico. This case brings the total number of travel-related cases found in Missouri to 34.

Additionally, on November 18, 2016, the World Health Organization declared that Zika virus is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern but instead should be viewed as an enduring public health challenge. Given that development, DHSS will no longer send out announcements regarding each travel-related case of Zika virus. However, case count information will still be available upon request.

DHSS will continue ongoing work to test possible cases, educate the public about the dangers of mosquito bites and Zika virus and track any new developments related to the disease.

The CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas which include areas of Florida and countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

All travelers returning from these areas should take precautions like wearing EPA-registered insect repellent to avoid mosquitoes. Additionally, all travelers to these areas should abstain from sex or use condoms for at least 8 weeks after returning. If a traveler or a traveler's partner is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, a doctor should be consulted for specific guidance. Also, returning travelers should immediately contact their health care providers if at any point they feel they may have Zika virus.

International health officials have found a connection between pregnant women contracting the virus and a birth defect called microcephaly in their newborn infants. According to the CDC, babies with microcephaly often have smaller head sizes and brains that might not have developed properly.

Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Typically, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint soreness and/or redness of eyes.

According to the CDC, Zika virus has the potential to be spread through a mosquito bite, through unprotected sexual contact, through blood transfusion and an infected pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

There is not currently a vaccine for Zika virus. The best prevention measure is to avoid mosquito bites in areas with ongoing transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus contracted from a mosquito bite in Missouri. Ways to avoid mosquito bites while outdoors include wearing EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, wearing pants and long sleeves, or remaining indoors in an air conditioned environment.

Since the beginning of the year, DHSS has regularly updated health care providers and the public about Zika virus in addition to coordinating the approval of Missourians for testing.

Please consult our additional resources for more information about Zika virus: