Public health officials have identified the first instance of Zika virus in Dane County.
Public Health Madison and Dane County announced in a statement Friday that a woman contracted the disease while visiting Colombia. Though the woman is now back in Dane County, experts said there is little risk of the disease spreading and Zika poses little danger to Wisconsin.
Zika, which is transmitted primarily through certain mosquitoes found in humid climates, is symptomatic in only one in five cases. Symptoms are mild and include rash, fever and muscle pain, according to the Center for Disease Control. The disease is rarely deadly, but poses significant dangers to the prenatal health of babies.
According to the statement, the Dane County woman who contracted the disease is not pregnant.
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Wisconsin is not home to the mosquito species needed to spread Zika, University of Wisconsin disease transmission researcher Matthew Aliota said. This means the state is not particularly vulnerable to an epidemic of Zika, though the disease may still be transmitted sexually.
“This is definitely serious, but I don’t see it as a significant public health threat to Wisconsin,” Aliota said.
Public Health Madison and Dane County Supervisor John Hausbeck said in the statement that the county will continue to monitor for Zika-carrying mosquitoes and other species that transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus.
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University Health Services has taken steps to inform traveling students about the dangers Zika poses to both immediate and natal health, and how to reduce the chances of exposure while abroad.
So far, Aliota said UHS has taken adequate steps with the level of danger students face from the disease. He said researchers will continue monitoring mosquito populations for the presence of Zika compatible mosquitoes in Wisconsin.
For those returning from travel in South America wishing to become pregnant, Aliota said there is testing to identify the disease in asymptomatic individuals.
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Zika and no medicine to treat it.