Health officials in Connecticut reported this week on the first Zika virus case in a pregnant woman and the third case total.
According to The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), the patient became ill with a fever and rash while travelling in Central America. It was during this trip that the patient conceived. The patient has since returned to Central America. DPH officials contacted the patient’s Connecticut physician today with the positive result and are working to get in touch with the patient or her family to ensure that she seeks medical care while she is out of the country.
The DPH State Laboratory identified Zika specific antibodies in the patient’s blood, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the findings. This level of testing, approved for the State Laboratory by the CDC in April, allows the State Laboratory to test specimens from potentially infected patients who either did not become ill or were ill but tested more than a week after the onset of symptoms. Prior to this approval from the CDC, specimens were sent to the CDC for testing, with an average turnaround of one month or longer for test results.
“The State continues to monitor Zika virus very closely — we have been preparing for months both to address positive cases and put measures in place to help prevent mosquito-related transmission of the virus here in Connecticut. As we’ve said, it wasn’t a question of if we would see a case, but when. All of our relevant agencies have been preparing as much as possible with the expectation that we will see more cases this summer. If you have traveled one of the Zika affected areas and are concerned about symptoms, particularly if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, I encourage you to consult your doctor,” Governor Malloy said.
“We are working with the patient’s physician to ensure that both the physician and the patient have all the necessary information and guidance they need,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino. “This virus is very dangerous for the babies of pregnant women, causing serious birth defects and miscarriages. It is extremely important for women who plan to become pregnant or who are pregnant to postpone travel to Zika affected areas. If travel cannot be avoided, women must take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites: wear insect repellant and long sleeves and pants, and stay in locations with window and door screens or air conditioning, if possible.”
Commissioner Pino also stressed that the male partners of women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant must also take precautions if they travel to Zika affected areas. In order to avoid sexual transmission of the virus to their partner, men who have travelled should follow these guidelines established by the CDC: Men diagnosed with Zika or who had symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin and men who have traveled to an area with Zika but did not develop symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after their return.