Oahu resident tests positive for Zika after travel in Pacific

Oahu resident tests positive for Zika after travel in Pacific
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has confirmed the first imported case of Zika in Hawaii this year.

The person, who lives on Oahu, has recovered and is no longer infectious.

The state Department of Health said the individual had traveled to the Pacific, where local transmission of the Zika virus has been reported.

"It was an imported case and the person probably traveled extensively in areas that have the Zika virus, came back, but was found to be not infectious. So there's no threat to the population here as a whole," said Environmental Health Administration Deputy Director Keith Kawaoka.

Health officials said the case was confirmed this week, and that there is no health risk to the public.

"The health care provider probably identified symptoms that could be associated with a vector-borne disease, like Zika or possibly even dengue, had that person tested, and that sample was sent to our state laboratories and it was found that the virus was identified but no longer infectious," Kawaoka said.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said she's expected to see more imported cases in the coming months.

"With Zika, and our current dengue outbreak, it's important for everyone in the state to reduce mosquito breeding areas by getting rid of standing water, and use repellant or protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites."

The department sent an advisory to healthcare providers statewide on Feb. 17, updating them on clinical guidance for Zika virus and urging them to be aware of areas abroad where Zika virus is circulating.

In 2015, Hawaii saw four cases of Zika virus in the state. There were two reported cases in 2014.

All of those who tested positive got the virus abroad, and there has been no local transmission of Zika in Hawaii.

Zika is caused by the Zika virus and spread by mosquitoes.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. About 1 in 5 adults infected with Zika will actually get sick. Symptoms are typically mild and lasts several days to a week.

More recently, the most alarming element of Zika has been its link to a serious birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with small heads and brains.

Health experts now know that the Zika virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, which is why pregnant women are being asked to postpone travel to Zika-affected areas.

In the Pacific, Zika travel notices have been issued for American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Tonga.

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