First Case of Zika Virus Spotted in Montgomery County

A 55-year-old woman was found to have been infected with the Zika virus after traveling to an area where it is currently spreading.

Zika virus micrograph

Zika virus micrograph image via CDC

The Zika virus is in Montgomery County.

Health officials in the suburban Philadelphia county announced today they’d confirmed the first case of Zika in a 55-year-old woman who had recently traveled outside the United States.

“The Zika virus is generally a mild virus that lasts less than a week,” Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said in a statement. “The CDC, the state health department, and our county health department are fully prepared for cases of Zika virus.” Arkoosh, a physician, is also interim medical director of the Montgomery County Health Department.

Zika is commonly spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Scientists first identified Zika in 1947. An outbreak of the virus began last year in Brazil and has spread throughout the Americas.

Among healthy adults, the virus generally causes no or limited symptoms. But in pregnant women, it is thought to cause microcephaly, a birth defect where babies have abnormally small heads and partially-developed brains. The Montgomery County Health Department says it may also be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome and other negative pregnancy outcomes, though more studies are needed.

The virus can’t be transmitted through casual contact, though men can spread the virus to their sex partners. There are no immediate preparations Montgomery County or other area residents need to take in light of the first case in Montco, though the Centers for Disease Control has issued travel advisories. The CDC recommends pregnant women (or those considering pregnancy) postpone travel to any areas where the virus is spreading.

There have been six confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Pennsylvania. The first case of the Zika virus in Philadelphia was identified late last month. A doctor from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently wrote that there’s no reason to freak out about it.

There’s more information at a page Montco authorities have set up.