Pregnant women advised to avoid travel to affected areas
State health officials continue to monitor for Zika virus and alert the public of the potential to contract Zika virus while traveling abroad. Pregnant women in particular are advised to postpone travel to areas affected by Zika virus.
“We are working closely with Acting Commissioner Pino and monitoring the situation. We continue to keep a close eye on the virus and I will be getting briefings and updates on the matter as needed,” Governor Malloy said.
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites, similar to West Nile virus or dengue fever. While illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, there is a possible link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.
“Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.”
DPH has asked Connecticut health care providers to report suspected cases of Zika virus infection. There are currently no cases of the mosquito-borne disease in Connecticut. Health officials said that no locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers.
According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the mosquito species that is primarily responsible for transmission of Zika virus to people is not found in Connecticut. “Closely related species are present in very low numbers and are unlikely to present a risk of Zika virus infection to people in Connecticut,” said Dr. Phil Armstrong, Medical Entomologist with the Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
CDC has issued a travel notice advising people traveling to affected areas in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, or Mexico to protect themselves from mosquito bites to reduce their risk of infection with Zika virus.
Zika virus, originally identified in 1947 from Zika forest of Uganda, is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are found throughout tropical regions of the world and are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Mosquitoes become infected with the Zika virus when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Infection is thought to provide lifelong immunity. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare.
Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus (see map) or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
For more information, please visit www.ct.gov/dph/zika.