The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a case of Zika virus detected in Puerto Rico. The virus, which originated in Uganda, is transmitted by mosquitos. It has since turned up in Asia and South America, and the CDC believes this could be the first case of someone catching the virus in the United States or its territories.
Most people who get the virus will not get any symptoms, according to Erin Staples, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. Of the one-in-five people who do, the symptoms are typically mild.
“With a fever, rash, you can get some muscle aches and joint aches as well as red eyes or conjunctivitis,” Staples said.
But the CDC is also investigating a possible connection between a Zika virus outbreak in Brazil and women giving birth to babies with abnormally small heads.
The virus can be transmitted by two different kinds of mosquitoes, both of which occur in the southeastern U.S.
“We would anticipate that we could see some disease and transmission of the mosquito here in the continental United States,” Staples said. “But given what we know from very similar mosquito-borne diseases we think it will likely be limited.”
The best way to avoid getting Zika virus in areas where it is more common, according to the CDC, is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.