First Zika case identified in King County

A health agent uses a new test kit that rapidly diagnoses three different mosquito-borne viruses in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 18, 2016. (Rodrigo Paiva for Reuters.)
A health agent uses a new test kit that rapidly diagnoses three different mosquito-borne viruses in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 18, 2016. (Rodrigo Paiva for Reuters.)

A local man in his 40s who had been in Colombia was diagnosed with the Zika infection, the first case in King County, according to the Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Officials say the case does not pose a risk to the general public in Washington, because the types of mosquitos that have been spreading the virus in South and Central American countries and the Caribbean are not the type typically found in the Pacific Northwest.

While the symptoms of Zika are very mild, the virus has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which is an abnormally small head and brain. Scientists have also linked the virus to Guillian-Barré Syndrome, a nerve condition that results in muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

Public Health officials have tested about 180 people in King County for the virus. This most recent case is the third case of Zika found in Washington. All three cases were found in people who became infected while in countries that have current Zika outbreaks, according to the county.

Zika is spread through a specific species of mosquito common in Central and South America and in the Caribbean, and men can spread the virus through sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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