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Zika Virus Detected in Oregon as Outbreak Spreads
by Eric Tegethoff/Oregon News Service
  Saturday February 13, 2016 - 8:29 AM
As the World Health Organization raises alarms about the spread of Zika virus through the America's, Oregon reports its first incidence of the virus, contracted by a traveler who has since recovered.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Health Authority Wednesday confirmed Oregon's first case of Zika virus in 2016.

The new infection is travel related, but the Health Authority did not say what country the individual visited.

Before this year, three Oregonians had been diagnosed with the virus since 2014. In all three of those cases, individuals had traveled to Polynesia.

Dr. Richard Leman, a Health Authority physician, says the virus is primarily spread by the kind of mosquitoes found in tropical climates.

"The likelihood of spread here in Oregon is very low," he points out. "Just to be on the safe side, we don't want to find out the hard way that our mosquitoes, lo and behold, can carry Zika and so we're just advising people who are ill with Zika to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes while they're here in Oregon."

Public health officials in Oregon have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test patients who have exhibited symptoms of the virus and traveled recently to countries where Zika is circulating.

There are concerns Zika virus might cause a condition called microcephaly in the children of women infected early in pregnancy, although there is no hard evidence the disease is linked to the condition.

Still, public health authorities are advising women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant to postpone travel to Zika-infected areas.

In non-pregnant women, only around one-fifth of people infected develop symptoms, which include fever, aches, rash and red eyes.

Leman points out Zika is very mild compared to other viruses.

"Fortunately, for just average folks, it doesn't cause that severe a disease," he explains. "If you have a choice between getting Zika and getting influenza, you'd probably go with Zika in most cases."

If you must travel to Zika-infected areas, public health authorities advise to cover up and use insect repellant liberally.

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