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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: February 10, 2016


Dover (February 10, 2016) - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today the state's first Zika case in an adult female. The illness was travel-related and pregnancy is not an issue. Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bite and the individual is not considered infectious. The illness was mild, as expected, and was confirmed by a CDC blood test. To protect privacy, DPH will not be releasing additional details on this individual.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It is not yet known how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. In rare cases, it also may be transmitted sexually from male to female.

The most serious threat linked to Zika is serious birth defects. There have been reports of serious birth defects in infants whose mothers contracted the virus while pregnant. Microcephaly, a condition in which a baby's head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers infected with Zika are now being linked to the virus.

Because there is neither a vaccine nor antiviral medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, DPH joins the CDC in sharing precautions for pregnant women or women who may get pregnant:

"This local Zika case is not a threat to the public's health," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "The most serious issue linked to this disease is birth defects caused when the pregnant women is exposed to the disease. As a result, DPH is focusing its messaging and awareness on preventing exposure to pregnant women and their partners."

Added DPH Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, "The best way for people to protect themselves from Zika or any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites during travel abroad and during Delaware's mosquito season. There are too many mosquito-borne illnesses to take a chance."

Those who recently traveled, or plan to travel, to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing, including, but not limited to, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama could be at risk for exposure. For the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of countries, visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

All women who traveled to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission during pregnancy should be evaluated for Zika virus infection and tested in accordance with CDC latest guidance.

To report a potential illness or receive further guidance on testing, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-744-4990. Today, DPH shared educational materials and tools, including flyers in English and Spanish for posting in medical and social service offices that serve pregnant women. For copies of the flyers and more educational tools, see the below links.

Health care providers should ask all their patients about recent travel. Because of the similar geographic distribution and clinical presentation of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya virus infection, patients with symptoms consistent with Zika virus should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya virus infection, in accordance with existing guidelines.

For further information:

Individuals seeking TTY services should call 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460. A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can use a TTY to type his/her conversation to a relay operator, who then reads the typed conversation to a hearing person at the DPH call center.

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, 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.