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First Case Of Zika Virus Confirmed In Putnam County

A Putnam County resident has tested positive for the Zika virus, the Putnam County Department of Health said in a statement Thursday.
A Putnam County resident has tested positive for the Zika virus, the Putnam County Department of Health said in a statement Thursday. Photo Credit: File photo

PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. — A Putnam County resident has tested positive for the Zika virus, the Putnam County Department of Health said in a statement Thursday.

A second resident was also being tested for the mosquito-borne virus.

Both residents had recently travelled out of the country.

“We are working with our local physicians and the New York State Department of Health to monitor and test residents with recent travel to a Zika-affected area,” said Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat, interim commissioner of health. “Symptoms of Zika infection are usually mild. Male travelers without symptoms do not require testing. However, all pregnant women — with or without symptoms — who have travelled to a Zika-affected region should be tested, because of a link to microcephaly or other birth defects.”

The current case count in New York State is 16 confirmed infections.

Three cases have now been reported in the Hudson Valley, with the other two in Orange County and Rockland County.

There is no reason to panic, said Dr. Stuart Feinstein, and infectious disease specialist at Vasser Brothers Medical Center.

"A mosquito has to bite someone and we don't have mosquitoes like this here," said Feinstein. "I'm not worried about widespread transmission. I don't believe this will be a source of infection for us locally."

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory for affected countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Samoa and Cape Verde. The infection is associated with severe birth defects, including microcephaly (a condition in which a baby's head is smaller than expected) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

To date, local transmission of Zika infection has been identified in 30 countries and territories, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. Before 2015, outbreaks of the virus had occurred only in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Last May, the first confirmed cases were reported in Brazil.

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