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Added to the list of places where the virus, which is transmitted by mosquito bites, has been found are the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The virus is also found in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, and Venezuela.
The CDC Tuesday confirmed an Arkansas resident who recently traveled out of the country has tested positive for the Zika Virus. The CDC said the individual had a mild case of the virus. “This particular individual is already over the symptoms and is way past the time that it would be infectious,” said Dr. Susan Weinstein, with the Arkansas Department of Health.
While no locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, U.S. health officials said there are 31 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in 11 states, with each of the affected individuals having caught the virus while traveling abroad.
Health officials warn imported cases could result in the spread of the virus in the United States.
“A mosquito here could pick up the virus from the infected person and then transmit it to someone else,” said Weinstein.
The Arkansas Department of Health says because Arkansas has the kind of mosquitoes that carry the Zika Virus, mosquitoes here in the state can become infected with the virus if they bite someone who has Zika. The Health Department advises any Arkansans who travel to countries with Zika to protect themselves against mosquito bites for ten days after they return. Additionally, any travelers to areas where the virus is present should visit their doctor if they experience any symptoms within three to seven days after they return.
Symptoms include fever, rash and joint pain and red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The illness is usually mild with symptoms usually lasting several days to a week.
The Zika Virus is not considered deadly. There is no medicine or vaccine available for the virus. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon with incidence of fatality low.
Until more is known, the CDC advises pregnant women postpone trips to these countries and to strictly avoid mosquito bites if they must travel there. The same is recommended for women seeking to become pregnant. Serious birth defects have been reported in babies born to infected women.
The CDC added that Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported associated with patients who develop the virus.
For more information on Zika, visit the Zika Virus page on CDC’s web site.