HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut woman who traveled to Central America and became pregnant while there has been diagnosed with the Zika virus, the state Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.
The department said the woman, whose name, age and hometown have not been released, became ill with a fever and a rash while traveling about a month ago. She was tested for Zika after returning to Connecticut, the department said.
The woman is a state resident, but has returned to Central America and the agency is working with her doctor in Connecticut to contact her and ensure she and her family receive proper medical care, the department said.
The woman is the third Connecticut resident to be diagnosed with Zika. The first was a woman in her 60s and the second was a man.
Connecticut health officials didn’t specify where the woman traveled in Central American or her reasons for being there.
The virus is typically spread to humans through the bite of the Aedes mosquito and is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it can lead to serious birth defects and miscarriages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says infected males also can sexually transmit the virus.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state expects to see more cases this summer and is prepared.
“As we’ve said, it wasn’t a question of if we would see a case, but when,” he said.
The state has recommended that women who plan to become pregnant or who are pregnant postpone travel to Zika affected areas. The department says if they can’t avoid travel, they should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites, such as wearing insect repellant, long sleeves and pants and staying in locations with window and door screens or air conditioning. Men who have symptoms of Zika are being asked to use or not have sex for at least six months after symptoms begin to avoid transmitting the virus.
The state lab received approval last month to test specimens from potentially infected patients who either did not become ill or were ill but tested more than a week after the onset of symptoms. The health department’s laboratory identified the Zika-specific antibodies in the patient’s blood, and then sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the findings.
Before April, specimens were sent directly to the CDC for testing, with an average turnaround of one month or longer for test results, the department said.