Puerto Rico has become the 14th country/territory in the Americas to report a locally acquired case of Zika virus infection, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Local transmission means that mosquitoes in Puerto Rico have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to humans.

Puerto Rico/CIA
Puerto Rico/CIA

The Puerto Rico Department of Health reported Thursday of the confirmed case in a resident of Puerto Rico with no known travel history.  CDC is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to investigate how the patient may have contracted the virus. Health officials in Puerto Rico are monitoring for other cases of Zika virus infection.

CDC has issued a travel notice advising people traveling to Puerto Rico to take usual precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites to reduce their risk of infection with Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue and chikungunya.  These steps include wearing insect repellent, using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when possible, and emptying standing water inside and outside the home.

Puerto Rico joins Brazil, Colombia, Easter Island, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela in reporting autochthonous transmission on Zika virus.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Infection is thought to provide lifelong immunity. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare.

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika virus infection. Preventing mosquito bites is key in avoiding Zika infection.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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