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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

First Case Of Zika Virus Reported In Vermont

The Department of Health is not releasing the name, or gender, of the Vermonter who has contracted Zika, or where the person traveled, in order to protect privacy. Zika is a virus spread by the bite of certain Aedes species of mosquitoes.

The state health department Friday reported Vermont's first case of the Zika virus. The department says a Vermonter contracted Zika after traveling to an area affected by the virus.

The virus was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said the Vermont case is not a surprise.

"We've been expecting that we would have a Vermonter return from one of these Zika-affected areas with Zika,” she said. "It's just been a matter of time, really."

The department is not releasing the name, or gender, of the individual or where the person traveled, in order to protect privacy.

Zika is a virus spread by the bite of certain Aedes species of mosquitoes. Illness is usually mild, with the most common symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye (conjunctivitis), although often a person infected with Zika has no symptoms, the health department said in a statement.

Zika virus has caused microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain, in babies of mothers who had the virus while pregnant, and may cause other severe fetal brain defects.

"It's just been a matter of time, really." — Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist

Kelso advised Vermonters to take precautions if they plan to travel to areas where the virus is found.  

"Vermonters who are planning to travel should definitely be aware and check to see if their destination is a Zika-affected area, because if they're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, they should not travel to a Zika affected area,” she said.

Kelso said mosquitoes in Vermont are not likely to transmit the disease.

Zika virus can also be spread during sex by a man infected with Zika to his sex partners. To help prevent spreading Zika from sex, the health department advises the use of condoms every time you have sex.

The health department has information on the Zika virus here.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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