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January 26, 2016

Resident of US state Virginia tests positive for Zika virus

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has confirmed that a resident of Virginia, who travelled outside the US, has tested positive for the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has confirmed that a resident of Virginia, who travelled outside the US, has tested positive for the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.

Recently, the adult had travelled to a country where Zika virus was widespread and the infection was confirmed through testing by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently, the VDH is alerting the public of the potential for contracting Zika virus while travelling abroad.

In addition, the CDC noted that Zika virus illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalisation is uncommon, while there is a possible association between the virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

"Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to consider postponing travel to Zika-affected countries while pregnant."

Virginia health commissioner Marissa Levine said: "Zika virus is acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito. Because it is not mosquito season in Virginia, this individual with Zika virus infection poses no risk to other Virginians.

"However, this is the time of year when more people do travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found. Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to consider postponing travel to Zika-affected countries while pregnant.

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"In addition, we are urging everyone, especially pregnant women, to check health travel advisories before leaving the US and to take preventive measures when travelling in affected areas of the world."

The CDC issued an alert for people travelling to regions where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, and it follows reports in Brazil of an increase in the number of infants born with unusually small heads and other poor pregnancy outcomes during a time of increased Zika virus activity.

It is reported that the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes), which can last from several days to a week.

Separately, the government of Brazil has decided to deploy 220,000 members of the armed forces next month to spread awareness about the Zika virus.

The army will be handing out leaflets on how to avoid the spread of Zika, which has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

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