Knox County first Zika case recorded in traveler

A medical researcher works on results of tests for various diseases, including Zika, at the Gorgas Memorial laboratory Panama City, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Panamanian authorities announced Monday that 50 cases of the Zika virus infection have been detected in Panama's sparsely populated Guna Yala indigenous area along the Caribbean coast where they are conducting an aggressive campaign to contain the spread of the virus. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department lab confirmed Friday that the Tennessee Department of Health has recorded their first Zika virus case. The individual recently returned to the United States from an area overseas and is expected to fully recover, according to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s office.

“We’ve been expecting a travel-associated case of Zika virus and believe more are likely as people travel to and from areas with active Zika transmission,” said Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “It’s important for the public to know that we still have not seen local transmission in the continental U.S. However, it’s also crucial for the public to know that they play a major role in preventing local transmission by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites and by eliminating mosquito habitats on their properties and at their businesses.”

Knox County Health Department said they are working with those in the household to prevent further spread of the virus. Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. It is primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

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Officials recommend the following:

  • Apply repellants to skin often; these can include lotions, liquids or sprays. The CDC recommends the use of repellants that contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535. The duration of protection varies by repellant; read labels on products to determine when reapplications are necessary for optimal protection.
  • Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks.
  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated permethrin clothing.
  • Dispose of, regularly empty, or turn over any water holding containers on your property such as tires, cans, flower pots, children’s toys or trash cans.
  • Fill in hollow tree stumps and rot holes, a common breeding ground for the Aedes mosquito, with sand or concrete.
  • To prevent breeding in large water-holding devices, including bird baths or garden pools, use larvicides such as mosquito torpedoes or mosquito dunks. If used properly, larvicides will not harm animals.
  • Check the CDC’s travel webpage before traveling outside the U.S. because it’s important to be aware of the diseases impacting your destination(s), including those spread by mosquitoes, and take steps to prevent infection.

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