Zika Virus: Missoula, Montana Case Confirmed, First In State

For the first time since the Zika virus outbreak began, a case has been confirmed in Missoula, Montana. It is the first case of Zika in the state, KULR reports. State of Montana public health officials have identified the infected individual as an adult female from Missoula County. The unidentified woman recently returned from a known Zika-affected area, and she is not pregnant at this time.

While the Zika virus has now found its way to Missoula, Montana, it is not native to the area. Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to humans most frequently through the bites of a specific mosquito. The Aedes species of mosquito, which is the natural host of Zika, is not native to or found in Montana.

The Billings Gazette reports that specific details about the Missoula, Montana Zika virus patient will not be released in order to protect her identity. The details being withheld include the woman's age and the name of the Zika-impacted country she traveled to.

Mosquito Larvae
[Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images]The first confirmed Zika diagnosis in the State of Montana should serve as a warning, warn officials, including Jim Murphy of the Department of Public Health and Human Services. All travelers returning home from Zika-impacted regions who develop symptoms or who are pregnant should contact their healthcare provider for testing.
"This case serves as a reminder that anyone traveling to Zika-affected parts of the world should be mindful of the health issues present in that region."
Symptoms of Zika include rash, fever, red and itchy eyes and joint pain, and they are usually mild and last less than a week. Only about 20 percent of people infected with the Zika virus will become symptomatic, so many people may never even realize that they've become infected, according to the CDC.

The biggest public health risk associated with exposure to the Zika virus has to do with a recently-noted link between Zika and serious healthy problems in pregnant women and their fetuses. Primarily, the Zika virus has been connected to an epidemic of a birth defect known as microcephaly in infants in Zika-impacted regions. Since the connection between Zika and the microcephaly epidemic was discovered, public health officials the world over have recommended that women who are or who may become pregnant follow CDC guidelines to prevent infection by the Zika virus.

At least two women in the United States have chosen to abort their pregnancies following a Zika diagnosis, reports The Hill.

Zika Baby
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]The primary Zika preventative measure for pregnant women and/or women who may become pregnant is avoiding travel to impacted areas. For those who can't postpone their travel to areas affected by Zika, avoiding mosquitoes and using insect repellent are recommended. There is no vaccine against Zika, nor is there a specific course of treatment available for those infected.

The confirmed Missoula, Montana Zika virus case puts the State of Montana on a list of 25 U.S. states that is now reporting at least one travel-associated Zika case.

Traveling to Zika-impacted regions does not appear to be the only way to become exposed to the Zika virus. There has been increasing evidence that the Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted, with the State of Oregon reporting its first case of sexually transmitted Zika today, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

"Though mosquito bites appear to be the most common way Zika is spread, there is increasing evidence for sexual transmission as well."
Unlike the Missoula, Montana Zika case, in the instance of the Oregon case, the infected woman didn't travel to a Zika region. She did, however, have sexual contact with a man who had, reports KGW.

According to health officials in Oregon, both the unidentified woman and the man who had traveled to a Zika-impacted area tested positive for the Zika virus.

The virus spread through sexual contact from a man who traveled in a Zika-affected country to a woman who had not traveled, according to OHA spokesman Jonathan Modie. Both the man and woman tested positive for the virus.

With increasing evidence of sexual transmission of Zika, authorities are warning women who are or may become pregnant to conscientious of their contraception.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services website has posted detailed Zika information, including symptoms and a list of Zika-affected areas in the wake of Zika virus being confirmed in Missoula, Montana.

[Image Courtesy Of @darwing_montana/Twitter]