FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – A fourth person has tested positive for the Zika virus in Connecticut, according to the Department of Public Health.
The patient is a non-pregnant woman in her 30s who traveled to the Caribbean in late April and came down with rash, fever and conjunctivitis upon her return, the DPH reported. In a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and health officials said that the state is taking all steps to combat the virus.
“We will see more cases here in Connecticut as the summer travel season ramps up, and it is essential for people to take precautions when traveling to regions that are affected by the virus,” Malloy said. Heavily affected areas include Central America and the Caribbean.
Theodore Andreadis of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said that the epidemic that is raging through Latin America is primarily carried by a species of mosquito called the yellow fever mosquito, a tropical species that is not found in Connecticut. However, he said that a species called the Asian tiger mosquito has recently tested positive for Zika virus in Mexico. The Asian tiger mosquito can be found in Connecticut, particularly coastal Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
The state is closely monitoring mosquitos, and has 91 trapping stations in 72 municipalities across the state, with testing being done on a regular rotation.
Andreadis said that the state is specifically looking at Asian tiger mosquitos, but added that he does not think people are likely to contract the disease from mosquito bites in Connecticut. People who come down with the disease here are more likely to catch it while traveling to affected areas or through sexual transmission.
DPH Commissioner Raul Pino said that pregnant women or women who are planning on becoming pregnant should not travel to affected areas if their travel can be postponed. He also said that men who travel to affected areas should not have unprotected sex for six months after the travel so as to avoid passing it on.
Pino said that the state would be stepping up its presence at Bradley Airport, giving information to travelers on what they can do to protect themselves.
Malloy said that 80 percent of people who have the virus don’t know it, so people who have recently traveled should assume they have it unless they are tested. He also added that any potential budget cuts would not affect the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the virus.
The officials urged travelers and residents to take some precautions to protect themselves:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants if you might potentially come in contact with mosquitos
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use screens to keep mosquitos outside
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you’re outside
- Use EPA-approved insect repellent, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months old
- Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs, and cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting
- Get rid of standing water where mosquitos are known to breed.
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