Zika virus is now in Georgia

State health officials confirm first case in state

The Zika virus has made its way to Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Health confirmed today the first travel-related case of the Zika virus in the state. A sample from the infected person was tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was positive for the virus.

The Georgia case involves a person who was not pregnant and had traveled to Colombia from late December through early January. It’s unclear how the Georgia traveler got the virus, whether through a mosquito bite or some other mode of transmission. The person made a full recovery, according the state Department of Health, which did not immediately disclose further details about the case.

The Zika virus, which is found in the Pacific Islands and in parts of Africa, has become a health crisis in several South and Central American countries and some Caribbean islands. Since last year, the virus has exploded in Brazil and is believed to be the cause of birth defects in hundreds of newborns in that nation. Microcephaly, a condition marked by an usually small head in infants has been the most common defect since the outbreak began.

To date, 31 cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States spread across 12 states. All have been related to travel.

“This is a whole new ballgame,” Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector Borne Diseases at the CDC told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “We have more questions than answers.”

In Texas, a man who’d traveled to Venezuela apparently infected his sexual partner with the virus on his return to the U.S., the CDC confirmed this week. That potentially opens up a new route of transmission. Four out of five people who contract the virus get it through mosquito bites from two different types of the insect, which are commonly found in the Southern United States.

About four out of five people get the Zika virus and have no symptoms. The most common symptoms are joint pain, fever and rash. Pregnant women or those who think they are pregnant are advised by the CDC not to travel to countries that are experiencing an outbreak of the disease. For a list of countries visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

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