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Travel-related Zika infection identified in Fayette County; mother, baby post no risk to spread

The first instance of laboratory-confirmed infection with Zika virus in Lexington was recently identified in a Fayette County infant born to a woman who had travelled during pregnancy to an area where the virus is circulating.

Test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the infant was exposed to the virus in the womb. Although the infant’s mother never described symptoms of illness, antibodies against Zika found in her infant suggest maternal infection during an early stage of the pregnancy.


Neither mother nor child is presently capable of spreading the virus to others or to mosquitoes in the area.

Although the primary means of transmission of Zika is through the bite of an infected mosquito, the virus can also be spread by sexual contact and can be passed from mother to baby. Zika infection during pregnancy may cause microcephaly, or small head size, in addition to other brain and neurodevelopmental birth defects, even though infection may not cause any visible symptoms in the mother.

The Fayette County infant does not have obvious physical abnormalities, but close follow–up and testing per CDC guidelines is recommended.

Experts recommend that pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant in the near future not travel to Zika-affected areas of the world and the anyone planning to travel to those areas take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Over 1,400 cases of Zika virus have been reported in U.S. states and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC. Prior to this infant, 9 cases of Zika had been reported from Kentucky. All cases reported as of this date in the U.S. have been associated with travel to a Zika-affected area. Zika is not known to be circulating in the mosquito population in Kentucky.

Travelers going to affected areas are specifically advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and to use approved insect repellents.  CDC has additional information online on how travelers can protect themselves and their family members from mosquito bites at www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html.

Those planning international travel are particularly encouraged to consult the CDC’s travelers’ health website, wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/, for country-specific health information for travelers.
Zika travel information, wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information, can be found on the site.

There is no vaccine to prevent infection and no specific antiviral treatment for Zika. Its most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. International travelers to at-risk countries who develop fever, rash and other acute symptoms within two weeks of return should consult with their medical provider.

Additional facts and information specifically related to Zika virus can be found online at www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

From Fayette County Health Department Communications

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