Massachusetts has first case of Zika virus

Massachusetts health officials confirm the state has its first case of Zika virus. 

The Boston Public Health Commission says the patient is a Boston resident who contracted the virus while traveling to a country where transmission is ongoing. The patient is expected to make a full recovery.

"We are aware of one case in Massachusetts, a person who had traveled to an area where we already know Zika is being transmitted," Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at the Department of Public Health told the State House News Service. 

Officials also said additional cases will not come as a surprise. 

Zika virus is a germ that is spread to people through mosquito bites.  Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and the Pacific Islands, and it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.

The previously little-known virus that re-emerged in Brazil in 2015 has now shown itself to be a possible threat to the continental United States. 

The World Health Organization has warned that the mosquito-borne virus is almost guaranteed to infiltrate every country and territory in the Americas - including the U.S.

Previously, the CDC confirmed that a baby born in Hawaii with an unusually small head contracted the Zika virus while in utero. The mother most likely had the infection while she was residing in Brazil. Authorities there have taken the unusual step of warning women against getting pregnant while the Aedes mosquito is a threat.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning about traveling to 13 South American countries, especially women who are pregnant. Three women in Florida have already contracted the virus. All three cases are confirmed to be non-pregnant women who had traveled to either Colombia or Venezuela.

Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 and is named for a forest in Uganda. The Zika virus has similar symptoms to dengue and chikungunya: rash, joint pain, fever. Like those syndromes, Zika is mosquito-borne. The virus is also linked to microcephaly, an abnormal smallness of the head in infants, and so Zika is especially dangerous for pregnant women. 


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