The first case of Zika virus has been confirmed in Snohomish County. A man in his 30s tested positive for the virus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The man had recently traveled to the Caribbean, one of the areas known to have mosquitos infected with the Zika virus.
The man has recovered from the illness. Now, the Snohomish County Health District is working closely with his health care provider to ensure that he follows CDC guidelines regarding the prevention of Zika virus transmission through sexual contact.
“It can be alarming to hear about Zika in our community, but tracking and responding to illnesses like this and many others is what public health does 365 days a year,” Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District, said in a press release. “These diseases highlight the importance of having a robust communicable disease prevention program ready to respond when you need it most.”
In addition to possible spread through infected blood or sexual contact, the Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth. Zika has been linked to increased risk of birth defects in pregnant women.
“We have been closely monitoring Zika news, and it was really only a matter of time before we had our first case,” Goldbaum said. “I have been working with our partners in the medical community to make sure we were prepared for this.”
The virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. While this species is not currently in Washington, people who have travel to and from areas where Zika is spreading can return with Zika illness. Those who have tested positive for Zika, or with sexual partners who were infected with the virus, are encouraged to either abstain from sexual contact or use condoms for up to six months after testing positive.