The first case of Zika virus in King County has been confirmed in a man who traveled to Colombia, one of the countries where the virus linked to devastating birth defects has been detected.
Health officials have confirmed the first case of Zika virus infection in King County in a man in his 40s who recently visited Colombia.
It marks the third confirmed case in Washington state of the virus exploding across Latin America and the Caribbean, where it has been found to cause devastating birth defects. Zika has also been linked to cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
The Washington cases are among more than 425 travel-associated Zika cases in U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 313 samples from Washington residents suspected of Zika exposure have been sent to CDC laboratories for testing since January, with 67 still awaiting results, health officials said Wednesday.
The King County case poses no threat to the public, officials with Public Health – Seattle & King County said. The virus is primarily spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are not found in the Pacific Northwest.
Zika virus can also be spread through sexual transmission, so travelers such as the King County man should follow CDC guidelines to prevent infecting his partners, officials said.
So far, no cases of Zika virus transmitted by local mosquitoes have been detected in the continental U.S.
However, nearly 600 cases have been confirmed in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, according to the CDC.
Health officials have said local transmission of the virus on the U.S. mainland, largely in the Southeast, could occur starting this spring and summer.