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Woman who recently traveled to Honduras has first confirmed case of Zika virus in Wisconsin

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MADISON -- Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have announced the first confirmed case of the Zika virus in Wisconsin.

"There were only five states that had not identified a travel case with Zika, and so now that's down to four," State Health Officer Karen McKeown said.

According to a news release from DHS, the individual who tested positive is a woman who recently traveled to Honduras, where Zika-infected mosquitoes are present.

There have been no locally-acquired cases of Zika virus infection in Wisconsin or in the continental United States, DHS officials said.

Karen McKeown

Karen McKeown

State Health Officer Karen McKeown said this in the statement:

“Wisconsin is one of the last states to have a confirmed case of Zika virus infection detected in a resident, but we have been actively preparing for the likelihood that this day would come.Together with partners, we have been working to prepare our Zika virus response plans.  This includes testing more than 300 people who have traveled to countries with known Zika virus transmission, and monitoring for the presence of mosquitoes that may carry Zika virus.  We will remain vigilant in our response to ensure the safety and health of all Wisconsinites, particularly pregnant women and unborn babies, who are most at risk.”

"The testing can happen if you've been in an affected country and developed symptoms or if you're pregnant and visited a country because of the especially high risk for your unborn child. We'll test you even if you do not have symptoms," McKeown said.


According to the release, DHS officials have been working on this issue with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health departments, health care professionals, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Entomology Department.

Because Zika virus poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies, DHS has targeted outreach to health care providers caring for pregnant women, because an infected mother may pass the Zika virus to a baby during pregnancy.


Zika virus may cause microcephaly in the infant, which is a medical condition in which the size of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly.

DHS officials say about 80 percent of people who are infected with Zika virus do not have any symptoms. Illness may develop in 20 percent of infected people within three to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Symptoms are generally mild and can last for several days to a week. Common symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain or headache. Severe symptoms and fatalities are uncommon. There is no medication to treat Zika virus disease and no vaccine is currently available.

"For most people, Zika is a very mild illness. 80 percent of people, four out of five, don't even know that they have it," McKeown said.


Zika is typically transmitted to people by a bite from an infected mosquito. However, it can also be spread from mother to unborn child, through sexual contact, and through blood transfusions, DHS officials say.

According to DHS, surveillance has not identified mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus in Wisconsin.

Working with the CDC, DHS officials have been providing guidance to clinicians for management and testing of possible cases of Zika virus infection. The CDC recommends pregnant women not travel to areas where the Zika virus is present.

DHS officials have offered these tips to prevent Zika virus infections:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants and apply according to the label instructions.
  • Stay and sleep in places with air conditioning and screened-in windows.
  • Avoid being outside during times of high mosquito activity, specifically around dawn and dusk.
  • Prevent standing water in your yard by disposing discarded tires, cans, plastic containers; draining standing water from pool or hot tub covers; turning over plastic wading pools and wheel barrows when not in use; keeping drains, ditches and culverts clean of trash and weeds so water will drain properly; and cleaning gutters to ensure they drain properly.


DHS officials say you should see a health care provider if you develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during a trip, or within two weeks after traveling to a place with Zika virus, or if you have had sexual contact with an individual who has traveled to a place with Zika virus. Pregnant women without symptoms that have traveled to an affected Zika virus area should contact their physicians for possible Zika virus testing.

According to the release from DHS, Governor Scott Walker recently approved the addition of nine project positions for the Division of Public Health, to address the workload related to the Elizabethkingia anophelis outbreak, and in anticipation of the presence of Zika virus in Wisconsin.


CLICK HERE to learn more about the Zika virus, via the DHS website.

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