DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Friday that an Iowa resident has tested positive for the Zika virus.
Officials with the state said the woman is between the ages of 61-80 and she had recently traveled to Central America.
Despite the official confirmation in an Iowan, health officials say there is not a huge risk in the virus spreading.
“The general public is not at risk of contracting this virus because the mosquitoes that transmit Zika are not established in Iowa,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “However, Iowans traveling to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission should take care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
Quinlisk said Iowans will become at risk if they travel to areas where the Zika virus is common like the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes and can cause serious birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected, so women are more at risk.
Quinlisk said adults worried about Zika should seek medical attention if they have recently traveled and develop a fever, rash, conjunctivitis or have persistent aches and pains.
With spring break just a few weeks away, the Polk County Health Department is looking to educate before people leave.
“Diseases in different countries are only a plane ride away,” said Nola Aigner, Polk County Health Department. “It`s really important for people to understand that, we actually do live in a small world.”
The part that has caught the attention of the department is that of the nine states that so far have travelers that have contracted the virus, three of those states border Iowa.
Aigner told Channel 13 that they are allocating extra resources to educate as many travelers as possible before they leave.