Zika virus has arrived in Kansas — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the first person in the state to test positive for Zika virus recently.
In a press release issued by KDHE, it was confirmed that the individual is an adult from southwest Kansas and has a travel history to a country with local Zika virus transmission. The individual developed an illness consistent with Zika virus infection and was tested per guidance from CDC and KDHE.
“Kansas is prepared for the Zika virus, and we are working with health care providers across the state to respond to both suspected and confirmed cases,” said Susan Mosier, MD, MBA, FACS, KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “I urge everyone who is considering travel to a country with Zika transmission to be aware of the situation and take precautions to protect themselves and prevent mosquito bites.”
Zika virus infection typically causes a mild infection in those who develop the disease. Approximately 80 percent of those infected never show symptoms of the disease, with the remaining 20 percent showing mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. There is no vaccine to prevent infection and no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus infection.
Pregnant women appear to be the most affected by Zika virus infection. Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester. There have been increased cases of microcephaly, possibly associated with Zika virus infections. Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing.
The CDC and KDHE have encouraged pregnant women to postpone travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Additionally, pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika virus should talk to their healthcare provider even if they don’t feel sick. The CDC and KDHE are providing guidance to help doctors decide what tests are needed for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika virus.
“Zika can be a serious and debilitating disease, especially among pregnant women,” said Jennifer Skiles, contract services director at Flint Hills Community Health Center. “We wanted to use this opportunity to inform the public about the health risks and what to watch for.”
When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, KDHE encourages individuals to take the following steps.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Stay in places with airconditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside
Sleep under a mosquito net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors
Use insect repellents containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IS 3535.
If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items
Spread of Zika virus has also been reported through sexual contact. Take steps to prevent sexual transmission with proper use of a condom. If a pregnant woman is concerned that her male partner may have or had Zika virus infection, she should talk to her health care provider.
For more information about Zika virus visit www.kdheks.gov/zika/index.htm.