Maine’s first case of Zika virus confirmed in Hancock County



This map shows areas where the Zika virus is actively being transmitted through mosquito bites. CDC GRAPHIC

This map shows areas where the Zika virus is actively being transmitted through mosquito bites.
CDC GRAPHIC

ELLSWORTH — An adult from Hancock County has tested positive for the Zika virus, according to a statement from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC).

The adult, who is 65 or older, traveled to a Zika-infected country and returned home with symptoms of the virus.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine,’’ said Dr. Siiri Bennett, the state’s epidemiologist, “and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you.”

Twenty-five Maine residents who have traveled out of the country have been or are being tested for the virus. This is the first reported positive result.

“The common link to this virus is travel, and this finding is not unexpected,” Bennett said. “Several countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America are experiencing outbreaks and Mainers like to travel to warm places in the winter.”

Symptoms of the Zika virus are relatively minor and include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache. Only one in five people infected with Zika show symptoms and the symptoms resolve on their own, according to the Maine CDC.

But the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes a baby to be born with an abnormally small head.

It was recently confirmed that the Zika virus can be transmitted by a male through sexual contact.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Maine CDC is recommending that all pregnant women and men who are sexually active with a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant who have traveled to a Zika-affected area be tested for the virus,” the agency stated.

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