The CDC confirmed that a U.S. traveler recently returning from Latin America has been infected with Zika virus, according to a press release.
The traveler from Texas developed symptoms associated with Zika virus, including fever, rash and joint pain. According to the CDC, symptoms last several days to a week, and serious complications and death are rare.
The virus was detected in several countries in the Americas, most recently in Panama, Honduras, Cape Verde, Paraguay, Venezuela and Mexico, according to WHO.
The CDC issued a travel notice earlier this month after the agency confirmed the first locally acquired case of Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico. The notice recommends that travelers, especially pregnant women, protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, using air conditioning, or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and draining standing water inside and outside of the home. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, the CDC said the virus will likely spread to new countries.
“Prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection,” Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, executive director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, said in the release. “Zika virus infections occur throughout the world. We encourage individuals traveling to areas where the virus has been identified to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and to contact their health care provider immediately if they develop Zika virus-like symptoms.”
Since November, Brazil’s ministry of health linked Zika virus infection to several deaths and an unusual increase in cases of microcephaly, a condition that affects newborns in which the occipitofrontal circumference is smaller than average.
The relationship between Zika virus and microcephaly was based on test results that revealed the presence of Zika virus in amniotic fluid samples from two pregnant women with fetal microcephaly, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). An initial analysis suggested that risk for Zika virus infection is associated with the first 3 months of pregnancy, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Health.
As of Jan. 2, WHO confirmed 3,174 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 38 deaths, across 684 municipalities in Brazil. The country’s northeastern region is particularly affected by the outbreak and continues to report a high number of suspected cases.
The ECDC also reported that investigations are underway to determine whether Zika virus infection increases the risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s own immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis, according to the CDC. Forty-two patients in French Polynesia and 121 patients in Brazil with suspected Zika virus infection were diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome.