The Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health have reported the state's first case of Zika virus.
Both agencies confirmed today that an older woman, who traveled to an undisclosed region affected by the virus, has symptoms of the illness, a press release from ADHS said
"We have been expecting a travel associated case of Zika virus and we believe more infections are likely as people travel to and from areas where the disease is currently being transmitted," said Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, in a statement for the media. "While this is a first, the risk of this virus spreading throughout Arizona is very low. Arizona's public health system has a plan in place and we are ready to rapidly respond."
Zika virus is a type of flavivirus, primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is a link between the virus and birth defects among babies of infected mothers, the release says.
Most people infected with the Zika virus do not become ill, and those who do become ill have symptoms that may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Severe illness and hospitalization due to Zika virus is rare.
Zika virus can be transmitted by several Aedes species mosquitoes, and Arizona is home to one of these - Aedes aegypti. Although the mosquito is found in many parts of the state, there is no evidence of Zika transmission within Arizona.
Arizona communities typically experience mosquito activity in the warmer months, with highest mosquito activity during monsoon season from June through September. The Arizona Department of Health Services is working with local and federal agencies to coordinate Zika preparedness and response plans.
Unlike other mosquitoes that come out at dawn and dusk, the Aedes aegypti mosquito can be out during all times of the day or night.
The Maricopa Health Department and the Maricopa County Department of Environmental Services have launched a response plan that involves surveillance for mosquitoes and people possible infected.
"Our Vector Control technicians survey Maricopa County year-round and set traps to monitor and treat areas that have routinely been mosquito breeding sites to help minimize the risks of mosquito-borne diseases," said a statement by Steven Goode, director of the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department. "Our Vector Control Lab has also recently received the most current guidelines from CDC for conducting testing for the Zika and Dengue viruses; and we are in the process of acquiring all the materials needed to begin testing mosquitoes for Zika."
According to the Centers for Disease Control
, as of March 23, 2016 there have been 273 travel-associated Zika virus cases in the country. Of that, 19 were in pregnant women and six were sexually transmitted.
ADHS advises us all to wear mosquito repellent and avoid bites at all cost.
Among the countries most affected by the virus are El Salvador