Zika Update in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) now says there have been 10 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in our state. According to KJZZ Radio in Phoenix, that is up from 7 confirmed cases just a week ago.

All of the patients acquired the virus by traveling to Zika-infected areas. Branch Chief for Public Health Preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services Jessica Rigler said if you’re visiting Central or South America, it’s important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

“Even more important, is when you come back from one of those areas to Arizona, that you protect yourself from mosquito bites for at least three weeks after you return,” Rigler said. “That’ll help, in case you are infected with Zika, to prevent our Arizona mosquitos from contracting the disease and spreading it to other people here in the state.”

The Zika virus grabbed national headlines again this week after a weird twist in Utah. From the Washington Post:

An elderly Utah man who died after contracting Zika from travel abroad may have spread the virus to a family contact who did not leave the country, raising troubling questions about a possible new route of transmission of the mosquito-borne virus, state and federal officials said Monday.

Officials said they are investigating how the second person became infected. One possibility is close contact between the critically ill patient and the caregiver, who has since recovered.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, “The deceased patient had traveled to an area outside the country where Zika is circulating and apparently caught the virus there. Lab tests showed he had extremely high amounts of the virus in his blood — 100,000 times higher than that seen in other Zika samples, according to a CDC news release. Prior to his death, the man had Zika symptoms — including rash, fever and pink eye — but it’s not known if the virus led to his death.”

While, as Time Magazine put it, this latest Zika case “has experts stumped,” it is also important to note that:

  • The virus causes only a mild illness in most people, and
  • No cases of mosquito-spread Zika have been reported in the continental United States.

Most experts believe the risk of Zika is minimal for those who are not traveling to Central American countries.Still, since Arizona is home to the mosquito that carries the virus, the Pima County Health Department listed a number of ways to limit the exposure to mosquito bites on its website.

  • Dress to protect. Wear loose-fitting, light colored long sleeve shirts and pants.
  • Check your yard. Remove objects that collect water and dump any standing water. Change water for pets or plants daily and wipe out the container with a cloth.
  • Use mosquito repellent. Use sprays or lotions with DEET or other ingredients proven to keep mosquitos away.
  • Protect yourself when traveling. Use mosquito repellent and clothes that will prevent mosquito bites while you travel. Speak to your healthcare provider if you feel ill upon return.

We will continue to update you on any new Zika virus information throughout our prime mosquito season. Staying on top of the important health issues in our state is another way we are working to help make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!



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