CEDAR RAPIDS — State public health officials said the public is not at risk after the Zika virus was found in an Iowan with a travel history to Central America.
The Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Friday that a woman, aged between 61 and 80, tested positive for the Zika virus. The Iowa resident — whose hometown has not been disclosed — recently traveled to countries where transmission of the virus is ongoing.
“The general public is not at risk of contracting the virus because the mosquitoes that transmit Zika are not established in Iowa,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for IDPH, in a statement. “However, Iowans traveling to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
Symptoms of the Zika virus are “usually mild” and last several days to a week, according to IDPH. Most people exposed to the virus do not develop symptoms. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a possible link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurological condition which can cause paralysis, according to IDPH. Public health officials also warn that mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus can also be carries of disease such as dengue or chikungunya.
Travelers visiting areas where Zika transmissions have occurred are encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use EPA-registered insect repellents, use permethrin-treated clothing, stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms and limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times.
Also, due to reports of birth defects in children born to mothers affected by the Zika virus, pregnant women or women who may become pregnant are being advised to delay travel to countries that have seen Zika transmissions. Male sexual partners that have traveled to areas where Zika has bee transmitted are also advised to practice abstinence or use condoms when having sexual contact with their partner during pregnancy.