COLUMBIA, SC – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirms the first case of travel-associated Zika virus infection in a South Carolina resident. The case was confirmed in a person who recently traveled to a country with active transmission of the Zika virus.
The individual did not have symptoms and was not contagious by the time they returned to the United States. Therefore, there is no risk to public health and no risk of transmission to people or mosquitoes in South Carolina at this time. To protect patient confidentiality no additional details on this individual will be provided.
“We had expected to see a case appear in South Carolina eventually as more people vacation to countries where the Zika virus is actively spreading,” said Teresa Foo, M.D. and DHEC medical consultant. “As our state’s public health agency, we actively monitor for the arrival of new diseases in South Carolina in an effort to help stop the spread of the illness.”
Mosquitoes in South Carolina do not carry the Zika virus at this time. While the primary mosquito that can carry Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is only found in small numbers in the Lowcountry, another possible carrier, Aedes albopictus, is more common. DHEC encourages all individuals, as a routine precaution, to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes in some other countries carry the virus and transmit it through biting. When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as:
- using insect repellent,
- wearing long sleeves and pants,
- staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Oftentimes, symptoms of Zika infection can be mild, yet last as long as one week. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.