It’s official. Arizona has its first confirmed case of the Zika virus.
The woman, who lives in Maricopa County, traveled outside of the United States to an area known to harbor the Zika virus before developing symptoms of illness.
“We have been expecting a travel associated case of Zika virus and we believe more infections are likely as people travel to and from areas where the disease is currently being transmitted,” said Cara Christ, MD, MS, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services in a news release.
We have done several recent blogs on the Zika virus and, as we mentioned previously, the mosquito that carries the disease does live in Arizona. However – that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. According to KYMA-TV in Yuma, “Authorities say the risk of the virus spreading throughout Arizona is low and the state’s public health system has a plan in place.”
Officials at the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) said, “Most people infected with the Zika virus do not become ill, and those who do become ill have symptoms that may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Severe illness and hospitalization due to Zika virus is rare.”
Much of the concern about the Zika virus has centered around pregnant women. With that in mind, ADHS now provides educational materials to prenatal care providers throughout our state regarding the virus including the most current recommendations.
The materials include:
- Prenatal care provider recommendation letter,
- Zika fact sheet for prenatal care providers, and
- Zika virus testing algorithm.
Public health officials say one of the best things we can do to prevent the Zika virus is to protect ourselves from mosquito bites. That includes:
- avoiding travel to any of the infected regions;
- wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts;
- using an effective insect repellant; and
- making sure there is no standing water to serve as a breeding ground.
Now that the Zika virus has made its way to Arizona, do you think we need to do anything differently or do you believe the threat to our state remains low? Generating these types of health conversations is important if we truly hope to one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!