Kansas health officials said Friday that the state has recorded its first case of Zika virus infection.
The patient, an adult from southwest Kansas, had traveled to a country with Zika virus transmission, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said. The case was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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,” Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier said. “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.”
The department did not say whether the patient was male or female, or identify which country was visited. Zika-affected areas include countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
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The announcement came a week after Missouri confirmed its first case, a man who had traveled to Haiti. The state did not say where that man lives, but the Kansas City Health Department said he was not from Kansas City.
As of Wednesday, the CDC reported there have been 153 cases of Zika virus infection in 31 states (not including Kansas) 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.
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 the Zika virus to her fetus.
No cases have been reported of Zika infections acquired from mosquitoes within the United States. But 173 locally acquired cases have occurred in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
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.
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection. More information can be found at cdc.gov/zika.
KC blood donations will help Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is now receiving donated blood for transfusions from the U.S. mainland because its own donor blood is considered compromised.
The Community Blood Center in Kansas City has joined an appeal by blood collection centers nationwide for donors to help supply Puerto Rico. Donor information can be found at www.savealifenow.org/blood or by calling the Community Blood Center at 877-468-6844.
Puerto Rico has recorded 159 Zika cases.
Alan Bavley, email@example.com