Zika Virus in Connecticut: Should We be Concerned?

President Obama recently called for urgent action to be taken to protect against Zika Virus. It’s all over the news, and just last week, the first Zika case in Connecticut was reported . Should we be worrying about Zika Virus in Connecticut?

Let’s address some basic questions about Zika Virus first.

What is Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a disease that is similar to dengue fever, spread primarily through the bite of a specific strain zika-aedes-mosquitoof an infected mosquito, the Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito which breeds, at least prior to 2015, primarily in Africa, the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia, has now begun to spread and infect people in other countries, and as of this writing, especially in Brazil.

What are the Symptoms of Zika Virus?

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika, however the main worry is over the virus’s possible link to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, in the vast majority of cases, damaged brains.  It is not something to be taken lightly.

Will we see the Zika Virus in Connecticut?

It is hard to say. Zika is transmitted 3 ways:

  1. Via mosquito bites from the Aedes mosquito
  2. Through infected blood or sexual contact
  3. Rarely, although this exists, from a pregnant mother to her unborn child

Because Zika originates in warm weather countries where mosquitos are breeding, Zika is not currently an immediate threat to us in the northeast, except via a person who has been infected returning to the U.S. and passing it on here. Thus far in the U.S. there have been 12 people who have tested positive for Zika Virus in Florida, where it currently has a greater possibility of increased transmission than here in Connecticut.

Is there a Zika Vaccine?

Not yet, however, we should be proud that there is currently research being done to create a Zika vaccine , right here in Connecticut at UConn, where a Brazilian virologist, Dr. Paulo Verardi and his team are predicting a preliminary vaccine that they hope to have available for testing soon.

Is there a test for the Zika Virus?

There are no currently available tests yet, but it is in development and is expected to be available to the public soon. we will keep you posted!