State health officials today announced the first Indiana case of Zika virus infection in a non-pregnant resident who recently traveled to Haiti. This individual’s illness, which was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was not severe enough to require hospitalization.

Indiana county map/ISDH
Indiana county map/ISDH

“I’m thankful for the work of the Indiana State Department of Health as they have tracked the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean in the event it would arrive here in Indiana,” Governor Mike Pence said. “Hoosiers can be assured that the Department of Health is working diligently to study the latest information on the Zika virus and will be proactively keeping Hoosiers informed in the weeks and months ahead.”

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., said the health department is providing guidance to local health officials and providers in anticipation of additional travel-related cases in Indiana.

“The risk of contracting Zika virus here in Indiana remains low, but we know that many residents are concerned,” Dr. Adams said. “We urge anyone visiting affected areas to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”

There is currently an epidemic of Zika virus infection occurring in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The virus is spread to people primarily through bites from an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. The CDC has also reported isolated cases of spread through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person. Most people who are infected with Zika virus won’t develop symptoms, but those who do are most likely to experience mild illness that can include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (pink eye). There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus. Patients who think they might have Zika virus infection are asked to contact their health care providers and to avoid mosquito exposure for the first week of their illnesses to reduce the likelihood of transmission through mosquito bites.

The CDC has advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas where Zika virus has been detected because of concern about birth defects. It also recommends that men who have a pregnant partner and reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission abstain from unprotected sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy.

“Pregnant women should not travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is occurring. Everyone else must weigh the risks against the benefits of travel and make the choice that feels right for them,” said Dr. Jennifer Brown, public health veterinarian for the Indiana State Department of Health. “People who choose to travel can reduce their risk of Zika virus infection by taking rigorous precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”