The Zika virus has made its way to southern Nevada. The Southern Nevada Health District confirmed its first case of the disease Thursday.
The man who tested positive for the virus recently traveled to Guatemala and came back feeling sick.
With so many people coming in and out of Las Vegas daily, health professionals are closely monitoring the situation and recommending that people take precautions.
“I think it’s reasonable to be a little worried, mainly for people who are traveling,” said Southern Nevada Health District epidemiologist Tony Fredrick. “It is Spring Break. There may be a lot of students in the southern regions.”
There is no treatment for the Zika virus, which causes flu-like symptoms that last one to two weeks in most cases.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
Zika virus can be transmitted from mother to child, through sexual contact and through blood transfusion.
University Medical Center Dr. Jay Fisher says one way to contract the disease is by getting bitten by a mosquito.
“It’s highly unlikely that a mosquito here in Las Vegas transmitted the virus. That would be highly unlikely,” he said.
Fisher is not aware of any cases in the United States resulting from bites; most instances have been transmitted from person to person.
The Southern Nevada Health District has a program that tests mosquitoes in the area for the Zika virus. So far, there have been no positive results.
Zika virus can be a concern for pregnant women, because it can be spread to the baby during pregnancy and cause birth defects.
Health professionals urge women to get tested for the virus. While health experts ask people to take precautions, doctors aren’t predicting an epidemic.
“I think it’s highly unlikely that it would be a big outbreak of this illness here locally in Las Vegas,” Dr. Fisher said.
The Southern Nevada Health District has sent 23 specimens to the Centers for Disease Control for testing. This is the first one to come back positive for Zika virus.
Fourteen cases are still pending. It takes about four weeks to get results back from the CDC.