COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is reporting the state’s third and fourth cases of Zika virus in returning travelers – a 56-year-old Butler County woman returning from Guyana, and a 60-year-old Licking County man returning from Haiti. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 52 travel-associated cases of Zika virus in 16 states and the District of Columbia prior to Ohio’s new cases, an increase from 35 cases in 12 states since Tuesday.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted through a mosquito bite, and there is no indication that it can spread from person to person through casual contact. CDC has confirmed a U.S. case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler after the person’s sexual partner returned from an affected country and developed symptoms. Due to the possible association between Zika virus infections in pregnant women and certain birth defects, CDC recommends that pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant consider postponing travel to areas with Zika virus transmission.
“Given the number of travelers between Ohio and Zika virus-affected countries, it would not be a surprise to see more cases,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Mary DiOrio. “There is no vaccine available for Zika virus so it’s important for Ohioans traveling to affected areas to take steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
Of people infected with the Zika virus, 80 percent do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they are often mild, lasting from several days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and headache. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.