Zika, West Nile virus reported in Alabama, health department warns

Alabama health officials are investigating multiple reports of Zika and the West Nile virus in the area, the state’s health agency said in a Monday afternoon news release.

Shelby County health officials confirmed at least one Zika case in Pelham, the Pelham Patch reported Monday. Officials, however, stressed that Zika hasn’t been transmitted locally. 

“To date in Alabama, the Zika virus has only been identified in individuals known to have traveled to areas where Zika is known to be endemic. There has been no local transmission,” the agency explained.

Fortunately, there are precautionary steps people can take — like using certain types of bug repellent and wearing loose, full sleeves and pants.

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People can get the Zika virus from mosquito bites, sex and blood transfusions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains on its website. A pregnant woman can also pass it onto her baby, the agency warned.

Muscle pain, joint pain, rash and fever are some of the common symptoms of the virus.

“Infection with the Zika virus causes only mild symptoms in the majority of the cases, but the biggest risk is to pregnant women,” Alabama health officials said. “Zika is now known to cause birth defects and other poor pregnancy-related outcomes if infection occurs during pregnancy.”

West Nile is a virus that’s typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though side effects of the virus can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.

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Most people who are infected do not experience symptoms, the CDC warns. However, a small percentage of people — roughly 1 in 5 — develop a fever and may additionally experience headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, among other signs of the virus.

Even rarer, about 1 in 150 people who are infected with West Nile virus can develop a serious illness — such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain — the CDC said.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral medication to treat or prevent the virus, according to the CDC. Rather, those who are infected can take over the counter pain and fever reducers to alleviate symptoms.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.