1st case of Zika virus reported in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The first case of the Zika virus has been reported in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health (THD).

According to a release, the infected person recently traveled to South America before returning to east Tennessee.

Except in pregnant women, the Zika virus is almost always a very mild illness and for most people testing is not necessary.

“I think it’s really important for people to know that, even though this has gotten a lot of media attention, it’s generally a very mild infection,” said THD Epidemiologist Tim Jones, M.D.

Approximately 80 percent of those infected never show symptoms of the disease, while approximately 20 percent show only mild symptoms.

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

“Because there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease and no specific medical treatment for those who are infected, TDH urges all who may be considering travel to the growing number of countries where there is evidence of the disease being transmitted to have heightened awareness and protect themselves and others from mosquito bites,” TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner said.

Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester and there have been increased cases of microcephaly possibly associated with Zika virus infections.

Microcephaly is a condition where the head is smaller than normal and may lead to a child experiencing a variety of other health challenges including physical and speech functions, seizure, hyperactivity, coordination problems and other brain/neurological disorders.

The list of affected areas includes many countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America. Click here for an updated list.

Health officials recommend people who are traveling to those locations to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

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