Two more Iowans have tested positive for Zika virus, bringing the total number of cases in the state to three. All three cases involve women who had recently traveled to countries where mosquitoes that transmit the virus are established.
Iowa college students, who are preparing to travel to popular spring break locations, are being urged to take precautions to avoid getting the Zika virus. Erin Baldwin is director of Iowa State University’s Thielen Student Health Center.
“Zika virus is currently all over in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, and South America — so, a lot of places our students may be traveling to for spring break,” Baldwin said. The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through bites from an infected Aedes mosquito, the same species that spread Chikungunya and Dengue fever.
Baldwin is warning any travelers to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission to protect themselves. “You know, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, making sure they’re sleeping in areas that are air-conditioned and away from mosquitoes, and using EPA-registered insect repellents,” Baldwin said.
Symptoms of Zika are typically mild, and severe illness is rare. The common symptoms include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, and headache. While rare, spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact also has been reported.
The virus’ greatest risk is to pregnant women or those who may become pregnant, due to possible links to a birth defect causing small heads and incomplete brain development in infants. The CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to places where the Zika virus is circulating.