AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced on Thursday February 25, 2016 that a mature adult (age 65 or older) from Hancock County has tested positive for the Zika virus.
The individual traveled to a Zika-affected country and experienced symptoms after returning home. Hospitalization was not required and recovery continues at home.
To date, 25 samples for residents across the state who have traveled have been or are being tested. Of the tests that have been completed, this is the first positive test result.
“The common link to this virus is travel, and this finding is not unexpected,” said Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist. “Several countries in the Caribbean, Central, and South America are experiencing outbreaks and Mainers like to travel to warm places in the winter.”
“It’s important for the public to understand that the aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine,’’ Bennett said “and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you. ”
Though less common, Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact from a male to his partner. The World Health Organization and U.S. CDC are investigating a potential link between Zika virus and an increase in microcephaly, a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This link is not well understood, and out of an abundance of caution Maine CDC is recommending that all pregnant women and men who are sexually active with a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant who have traveled to a Zika-affected area be tested for the virus.
“Pregnant women and their male partners with whom they are sexually intimate who travel to a tropical and sub-tropical climate where the aedes mosquitoes are found should not only take precautions against being bitten while traveling, but they should be tested and take appropriate steps to prevent sexual transmission of the virus,’’ Dr. Bennett said.
Only one in five people infected with Zika show symptoms and the symptoms resolve on their own. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache.
The mosquitoes that can transmit Zika virus are actively biting during the day. It is recommended that Mainers who travel to Zika-affected countries:
To stay up to date on the number of tests being conducted on Mainers and the results, visit http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/zika/index.shtml . This data is updated every two weeks.