2 Mahoning County residents test positive for Zika virus

Both people have recently been in countries where the Zika virus is prevalent

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host.
Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two Mahoning County residents have tested positive for the Zika virus, according to the Mahoning County District Board of Health.

This brings the number of travel-associated cases in Ohio to 18. There are 822 travel-associated cases in the U.S., according to the Board of Health. Currently, there are no known cases of Zika virus that have been acquired from mosquitoes within the U.S.

Mahoning County Health Commissioner Pat Sweeney isn’t overly concerned about the local cases, and sees no reason to panic even though she says it’s likely there will be more.

Though she wouldn’t give many details about the two Mahoning County residents, Sweeney says they are both healthy now and no longer have symptoms. She also knows where they contracted the virus.

“The fact is, they traveled to areas of the world where the Zika virus is endemic. It is not a locally-transmitted disease, so it was something they picked up elsewhere and came home,” she said. “Residents who travel to countries where the Zika virus is prevalent should follow travel precautions and prevent mosquito bites.”

The Zika virus is spread mainly by the bite of the infected mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and not person-to-person. This mosquito is primarily found in the tropics and in the southern U.S.

Of people infected with the Zika virus, 80 percent do not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they begin 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms are generally mild and usually last no longer than a week.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headache

Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, but there is an association between Zika virus and certain birth defects, such as microcephaly, and Guillain-Barre, a condition that attacks the immune system and can cause paralysis.

Sweeney says pregnant women, along with women or men traveling overseas who are planning to start a family, could be putting their children at risk if they get the Zika virus.

She says it is also important to take precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites and control the mosquito population by eliminating standing water, having intact screens on doors and windows and wearing insect repellent.

Mahoning and Trumbull counties are part of a mosquito study amid Zika concerns. Ten new traps will soon be used to catch the insects.

“Haven’t been known to be in this region of Ohio, but we are now doing surveillance to test, to trap mosquitoes all around the state, so we will know if they do come to this area.”

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