A Stanislaus County resident who recently traveled outside of the country is the first local to test positive for the Zika virus.
The Zika virus is an infection transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Most infected people have no symptoms. If symptoms do develop, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain, and/or red eyes. Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito and last several days to a week. The illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. There is no specific treatment for Zika virus disease. The only treatment option available is the provision of supportive care including rest, fluids, and use of analgesics and antipyretics.
However, the virus has been linked to birth deformities and miscarriages.
The 19-year-old Stanislaus County man was diagnosed by his local doctor after returning from travel to the Caribbean. He did not need to be hospitalized and his symptoms were resolved within 48 hours of being diagnosed, according to Dr. John Walker, the public health officer for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.
As of June 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 755 Zika cases in the U.S., all of which were acquired as a result of travel outside the country.
Walker said the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency has had some Zika tests come through their office over the past few months, but the 19-year-old man was the first to test positive.
"We've made an effort in the past three months to inform physicians in community about Zika," said Walker. "We've sent out updates and information on testing...we have been seeking to inform providers so they are aware of the symptoms and can submit the appropriate testing."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Zika risk travel alerts for the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the Pacific Islands.
"Pregnant women should not travel to areas that are affected by Zika," said Walker.
If travel to those areas are unavoidable, Walker said it was very important for all visitors to use insect repellent .
Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes, which are active in the daytime, unlike local mosquitoes that tend to bite at dawn and dusk. The Aedes mosquitoes have been found in 11 counties in California, but not in Stanislaus County.
"A greater concern to us is the West Nile Virus because, unfortunately, West Nile Virus is more severe and results in county residents being hospitalized," said Walker.
West Nile Virus has been found in two mosquito samples and killed two birds in the Turlock area as of Monday.
All residents are urged to take steps to prevent mosquito bites:
• Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol for long lasting protection. If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
• Using insect repellent is safe and effective. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose an EPA-registered insect repellent and use it according to the product label.
• When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
• Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
• Report neglected swimming pools by calling your local mosquito abatement district. Anonymous calls accepted.
There are two mosquito abatement districts to serve residents in Stanislaus County. Residents north of the Tuolumne River should contact the Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 522-4098. Residents south of the Tuolumne River should contact the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at turlockmosquito.org or 634-1234. Residents are urged to continue to report dead birds to the WNV State Hotline at 1-877-968-2473.