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DOH announces first sexually-transmitted case of Zika in Pennsylvania

(MGN Online)

The Department of Health has announced the first case of the Zika virus infection through sexual transmission in Pennsylvania.

“A Pennsylvania resident contracted the Zika virus from a mosquito while traveling outside of the state in an area where Zika transmission is occurring.” DOH Secretary Karen Murphy said in a release. “Upon returning to the commonwealth, the person passed it via sexual transmission to their partner. In light of this, we remind residents to practice safe sex, especially if they have traveled to an area with Zika-infected mosquitoes. Infections with the Zika virus may be present without symptoms. If you have traveled to an area where Zika virus is present, condoms or other barrier protection methods should be used during sex for eight weeks upon return to prevent sexual transmission. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should discuss with their doctors any travel plans to Zika-affected locations.”

An outbreak in the disease began in May 2015. Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. It has also been known to be spread from mother to child and through blood transfusion.

Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually. Men who have traveled to affected areas are advised to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus through sexual contact.

Concerns about the virus have increased after reports of a birth defect known as microcephaly that may be associated with Zika virus infection among pregnant women.

A majority of infected individuals don't have symptoms of the virus. Symptoms are usually mild and last between a couple days and a week, including:

-- Fever

-- Rash

-- Headache

-- Red eyes

-- Muscle and/or joint pain

Symptoms can be treated with fluids, fever and pain relievers, and plenty of rest. It is rare for death or illness requiring hospitalization to occur due to Zika virus.

There are no medications or vaccinations available at this time to treat or prevent Zika virus.

The DOH recommends the following tips to protect against mosquito bites if traveling to an area affected by the virus:

-- Use an insect repellent containing DEET

-- Use physical barriers such as screens, closed windows and doors

-- Wear light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible

-- Sleep under mosquito nets

Anyone who develops symptoms within two weeks of visiting a country affected by the virus is urged to contact their health care provider.

Visit health.pa.gov for more information about Zika virus.

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