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State health officials: NO locally-transmitted cases of Zika virus in Wisconsin, but plan is in place

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MADISON — Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said Wednesday, August 10th there are NO locally transmitted cases of Zika virus in Wisconsin — but there is a plan in place as it relates to prevent and response here in the Badger State.

DHS officials said in a statement Wednesday there are fewer than 20 people in Wisconsin who have confirmed cases of Zika virus. But again — there have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika virus in Wisconsin.

According to DHS officials, the individuals with Zika in Wisconsin contracted the virus during recent travel to areas that have mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

 

According to health officials, the two types of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are not likely to make it as far north as Wisconsin, but DHS’ Division of Public Health (DPH) is actively collaborating with local health department partners to watch for them.

DHS contracts with UW-Madison Medical Entomology Laboratory for the Mosquito Surveillance Project, monitoring and studying mosquito populations.

To date, surveillance has not identified any of the mosquitoes that transmit Zika in Wisconsin, according to DHS officials.

DPH is also providing guidance to local health care partners on lab testing protocols for people who have traveled to Zika-affected areas, with a special focus on providing information to, and testing pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika virus.

As of August 3rd, a total of 573 people have been tested in Wisconsin, resulting in 18 confirmed travel-related Zika virus cases.

Again — there are currently no cases, or suspected cases, of Zika virus contracted in Wisconsin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending pregnant women avoid travel to the Wynwood neighborhood near Miami, Florida. The Florida Department of Health has identified this neighborhood as an area where Zika has been spread by mosquitoes.

Florida is currently the only state where locally-transmitted cases have been confirmed.

Learn more about the CDC recommendation here.

In April, Governor Scott Walker approved the addition of nine project positions in DPH to help with the response and prevention of outbreaks, including Elizabethkingia anophelis and also in anticipation of the presence of Zika.

The greatest threat from the Zika virus is to pregnant mothers, and their unborn babies.

Zika can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, and may be associated with microcephaly (a medical condition in which the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing).

Although rare, there have been reports that Zika virus can be spread through blood transfusion, sexual contact and laboratory exposure.

Most people infected with Zika virus may not have any symptoms.  Signs and symptoms may include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain or headache. Severe symptoms and fatalities are uncommon.

Learn more about Zika virus here.

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