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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: June 30, 2016


DOVER, DE (June 30, 2016) - Today, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced two New Castle County men have tested positive for the Zika virus bringing the total number of cases in Delaware to seven. All of the Zika positive test results are due to a mosquito bite while traveling abroad and none involve a pregnancy. Both men were tested in June following recent travel. Zika is spread primarily through mosquito bite but can also be sexually transmitted from male to female or passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy.

A total of 120 individuals have been, or are in the process of being, tested in Delaware. At this time, there are 95 negative results, seven positive results, and two indeterminate results in pregnant females. Indeterminate means that it is not possible to definitively confirm the existence of the Zika virus in the human body. Both individuals with indeterminate results were traveling or living abroad this past winter. According to the CDC, there are 820 confirmed cases of Zika virus in the Unites States and District of Columbia. As of June 22, the CDC reports there is still no confirmed transmission of Zika by local mosquito bite in the continental U.S.

To protect patient privacy, DPH will not announce any other information on the status of the pregnancies. Consistent with other states, DPH will announce any Zika-related microcephaly cases after a birth should it occur.

"DPH has chosen to take nothing that could be Zika-related for granted," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "There has been no transmission of Zika via mosquito in the continental U.S., but it is almost inevitable in the future. We have to take every opportunity to remind people to prevent mosquito bites and to use condoms with a male partner who recently traveled to an affected area or has tested positive for the disease."

Added DPH Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, "We can also understand that a Zika result categorized as 'indeterminate' could cause concern. It simply means that there was evidence of infection with a virus in the same 'family' as Zika virus, but the specific virus cannot be determined. This may occur if several weeks have passed between when the person got the infection and when the test was done. It may also occur if the person has been infected (recently or a long time ago) with a virus in the same family as Zika."

Examples of some viruses in the same family as Zika virus (flavivirus) are Dengue, West Nile Virus, Yellow fever, and Japanese Encephalitis virus. Some of these, such as West Nile virus, can be more common in Delaware and others such as Dengue occur mostly in returning travelers. Use of good mosquito avoidance techniques will help to protect you and your family from these viruses and other mosquito-borne infections such as Chikungunya.

DPH recently announced new Zika public education materials targeting pregnant women and their male partners, including offering Zika Prevention Kits to pregnant women. The kits will be distributed at Delaware Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics and other locations. Recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the kit contains mosquito repellent, condoms, thermometers, and informational brochures. DPH will also be offering updated information and links to educational materials, which can be found at: dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html.

Zika, a generally mild illness, has been linked to serious birth defects in Brazil and other countries and is most often spread by mosquitoes.

Travel and Transmission Advisories

About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease, and most people who are infected do not develop symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

To report a potential Zika illness or receive further guidance on patient testing, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-744-4990. For copies of flyers and more educational tools, see the below links.

For further information for pregnant women and their male partners:

Zika FAQs and mosquito control tips:

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents; stay in places with air conditioning or that use window or door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside and not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes; treat clothing and gear with permethrin available in pharmacies or purchase permethrin-treated items; and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

To learn more about how to reduce mosquitoes around your home, two videos with information about Zika virus and backyard water sanitation tips also are available on DNREC's YouTube Channel: Zika Virus, Mosquitoes & You, and Mosquito Control & Your Backyard.

To report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes and request local relief, residents are encouraged to call Mosquito Control's field offices:

General Zika information:

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.