SC health officials report 1st case of travel-related Zika

VIDEO: First travel-related Zika case confirmed in South Carolina
Zika virus. (Source: Raycom Media)
Zika virus. (Source: Raycom Media)

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - For the first time, a case of travel-associated Zika infection has been confirmed in South Carolina, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed Friday.

The case was confirmed in a person who recently traveled to a country with active transmission of the virus, according to a release from DHEC.

"The individual did not have symptoms and was not contagious by the time they returned to the United States," the release states. "Therefore, there is no risk to public health and no risk of transmission to people or mosquitoes in South Carolina at this time. To protect patient confidentiality no additional details on this individual will be provided."

Mosquitoes in South Carolina have not been found to carry the Zika virus so far. Mosquitoes that do carry the virus in other countries transmit it through biting.

"We had expected to see a case appear in South Carolina eventually as more people vacation to countries where the Zika virus is actively spreading," DHEC medical consultant Dr. Teresa Foo said. "As our state's public health agency, we actively monitor for the arrival of new diseases in South Carolina in an effort to help stop the spread of the illness."

While the primary mosquito that can carry Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is only found in small numbers in the Lowcountry, another possible carrier, Aedes albopictus, is more common, health officials say.

DHEC encourages all individuals, as a routine precaution, to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as:

  • using insect repellent,
  • wearing long sleeves and pants,
  • staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Symptoms of Zika infection can often be mild, yet last as long as one week. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects.

The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

The Associated Press reported there have been 426 cases of Zika reported in 50 states, all linked to travel to outbreak areas.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.