CDC testing confirms Zika virus infection in Minnesota traveler returning from Central America

Minnesota Department of Health

CDC testing confirms Zika virus infection in Minnesota traveler returning from Central America

  • Not a risk for spread in Minnesota
  • Nearly 80 percent of those infected develop no symptoms, and when symptoms do develop they are typically mild
  • Risk of rare, more significant impacts for pregnant women
  • Minnesotans advised to talk with health care providers before traveling to tropics

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Wednesday a case of Zika virus disease in an Anoka County woman in her 60s. Symptoms began January 1, after the woman traveled to Honduras. She was not hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery.

This is the first confirmed case of Zika virus infection in a Minnesota traveler this year. The most recent previous Minnesota case was detected in 2014 in a man who traveled to French Polynesia. The mosquito-borne infection is occasionally found in travelers returning home from areas known to be affected, but it has yet to be transmitted in the continental United States. The mosquito species known to transmit the virus are not currently found in Minnesota.

“Zika virus is not a health threat for people in Minnesota, but it is a reminder that anyone traveling to a different part of the world should be mindful of the health issues present in that region,” said MDH Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. “Since some regions where Zika is circulating are popular destinations for Minnesota travelers in the winter, we expected we might see cases of Zika in the state.”

Zika virus has been found for years in parts of Asia and Africa. Since it was first detected in the Western Hemisphere in May 2015, the virus has spread throughout tropical areas of Central and South America. The virus is spread when certain species of mosquito bite an infected person, and then go on to bite another person.

Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Most others typically have mild symptoms, such as fever, joint soreness, rash or red eyes. In less than 1 percent of cases, severe outcomes including microcephaly (abnormally small heads) in infants, miscarriage and Guillain-Barre syndrome have been reported.

There are no vaccines or treatment for Zika virus. The best prevention measure is to avoid mosquito bites in areas known to harbor the disease. Those traveling to affected areas should take the following measures:

  • Use mosquito repellents containing DEET or other effective alternative active ingredients (picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus);
  • Stay in dwellings with good doors and window screens; and
  • Consider postponing travel to affected areas if you are pregnant or could become pregnant.

As of January 27, CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas, which in the Western Hemisphere include the following: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

For more information on Zika virus and the latest travel advisories, check the CDC Zika site.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications