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Department of Health Services Confirms First Case of Zika Virus in Wisconsin

Department of Health Services health officials announced a Wisconsin resident has a confirmed case of Zika virus infection.

According to a release, the individual who tested positive is a woman who recently traveled to Honduras, where Zika-infected mosquitoes are present.

There have been no locally-acquired cases of Zika virus infection in Wisconsin or in the continental United States.

“Wisconsin is one of the last states to have a confirmed case of Zika virus infection detected in a resident, but we have been actively preparing for the likelihood that this day would come,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “Together with partners we have been working to prepare our Zika virus response plans. This includes testing more than 300 people who have traveled to countries with known Zika virus transmission, and monitoring for the presence of mosquitoes that may carry Zika virus. We will remain vigilant in our response to ensure the safety and health of all Wisconsinites, particularly pregnant women and unborn babies, who are most at risk.”

DHS has been working on this issue with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health departments, health care professionals, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Entomology Department. Because Zika virus poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies, DHS has targeted outreach to health care providers caring for pregnant women, because an infected mother may pass the Zika virus to a baby during pregnancy. Zika virus may cause microcephaly in the infant, which is a medical condition in which the size of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly.

Zika is typically transmitted to people by a bite from an infected mosquito, however, it can also be spread from mother to unborn child, through sexual contact, and through blood transfusions. According to DHS, surveillance has not identified mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus in Wisconsin.

Working with the CDC, DHS has been providing guidance to clinicians for management and testing of possible cases of Zika virus infection. The CDC recommends pregnant women not travel to areas where the Zika virus is present.

The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to avoid travel to areas where active transmission is present. Zika is only one of several diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes. To protect yourself from mosquito bites, consider the following:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants and apply according to the label instructions.
  • Stay and sleep in places with air conditioning and screened-in windows.
  • Avoid being outside during times of high mosquito activity, specifically around dawn and dusk.
  • Prevent standing water in your yard by disposing discarded tires, cans, plastic containers; draining standing water from pool or hot tub covers; turning over plastic wading pools and wheel barrows when not in use; keeping drains, ditches and culverts clean of trash and weeds so water will drain properly; and cleaning gutters to ensure they drain properly.
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