Health officials said Friday that a case of Zika virus infection has been confirmed in a Missouri man who had traveled to Haiti, a known area of Zika transmission.
This is the first confirmed case of Zika virus infection reported in a Missouri resident, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said. The case was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Missouri officials did not say where in the state the man lives. The Kansas City Health Department said he is not in Kansas City. No Zika cases have been reported in Kansas, according to the CDC.
The Zika virus is most often spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. But the virus also can be passed through blood transfusions or through semen during unprotected sexual contact. An infected pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.
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Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Typically, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint soreness and redness of the eyes.
But international health officials are examining the connection between women infected with Zika during their pregnancy and babies born with damaged brains and unusually small heads, a condition called microcephaly. The possible link between the virus and the birth defect was discovered last fall in Brazil, where thousands of babies have been born with microcephaly, many times the expected number.
Other countries with Zika also are reporting a steep increase in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause paralysis.
As of Tuesday, the CDC reported there have been 153 cases of Zika virus infection in 28 states (not including Missouri) and the District of Columbia linked to travel in areas where Zika is being spread. The largest number of cases have been in Florida, New York, Texas and California.
No cases have been reported of Zika infections acquired from mosquitoes within the United States. However, 107 locally acquired cases have occurred in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The largest number has been in Puerto Rico, where 102 cases have been reported.
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection. The CDC is recommending that pregnant women avoid travel to Zika-affected areas, which include countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central America and South America. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/zika.