The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that a state resident who travelled to a country where the Zika virus has been spreading has been infected by the mosquito-borne illness.
Friday's development marks the first confirmed case of Zika virus in North Carolina and is the second to occur in the continental U.S., with the first being an infection in Texas attributed to sexual transmission. The person hadn't travelled to any infected areas but his or her partner had recently visited Venezuela.
Officials declined to reveal the identity of the patient or where he or she lives due to privacy rules but said the adult patient's symptoms "have resolved."
As of Feb. 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported travel-related Zika infections in 21 other states as well as the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the NCDHHS.
"As long as the outbreak continues in Central and South America and the Caribbean, we expect to see more travel-related Zika virus infections in our state," Randall Williams, North Carolina's state health director, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "While travel-related cases don't present a public health threat to North Carolina, we always actively monitor emerging global situations and adjust resources to meet needs."
The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through infected mosquitoes, with common symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The difficulty with identifying those who are infected however, is the fact that only 20 percent of thos infected will actually show symptoms
Pregnant women infected with Zik V, as it is commonly abbreviated by officials, can pass the virus to unborn children, leading officials to link the virus with microcephaly - a condition that usually results in abnormal brain development, with long-term effects ranging from mild developmental delays to sever motor and intellectual deficits, such as cerebral palsy.
In light of this, the CDC has complied a travel watch list that features areas that pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant should avoid.
Though the primary carriers of the Zika virus are not believed to be widespread in North Carolina, residents are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites which include:
•Wearing insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
•Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
•Using air conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in place.
To see more of HNGN's coverage of the Zika virus, click here.