SOUTH CAROLINA — The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed on Friday that the first case of Zika virus has been diagnosed in South Carolina.
According to the statement, the person diagnosed acquired the disease while traveling to “a country with active transmission of the Zika virus.” The agency stressed that the person did not exhibit symptoms and was not contagious by the time they returned to the United States.
” … there is no risk to public health and no risk of transmission to people or mosquitoes in South Carolina at this time,” the statement reads.
Due to federal and state privacy regulations concerning medical patients, DHEC declined to identify the person in S.C. infected including the patient’s age, gender or city of residence. The person’s prognosis or hospitalization status is also unknown.
DHEC asserts that mosquitoes in South Carolina, at this time, do not carry the Zika virus.
“While the primary mosquito that can carry Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is only found in small numbers in the Lowcountry, another possible carrier, Aedes albopictus, is more common. DHEC encourages all individuals, as a routine precaution, to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” DHEC officials said.
“We had expected to see a case appear in South Carolina eventually as more people vacation to countries where the Zika virus is actively spreading,” said Dr. Teresa Foo, DHEC medical consultant. “As our state’s public health agency, we actively monitor for the arrival of new diseases in South Carolina in an effort to help stop the spread of the illness.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of individuals that become infected with the Zika virus do not show any symptoms. However, when symptoms are present, the most common ones are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.
Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby and an infection during pregnancy can result in a serious birth defect of the brain called “microcephaly” in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. Other severe birth defects have been lined to the Zika virus as well.
Because of the potential dangers, the CDC is recommending that all women who are pregnant avoid travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is prevalent. Such areas include Mexico, Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, parts of South America and the Pacific Islands.
The CDC states there have been 427 cases of Zika virus diagnosed in the United States since Jan. 1, 2015, all of which were contracted while the person(s) were traveling in other countries.
For a complete list of countries currently under a CDC travel advisory for Zika virus, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.