State health officials Thursday confirmed one case of the Zika virus in Massachusetts and said additional cases are quite possible, though the virus cannot be spread from one infected person to others. The affected patient is male, so there is no concern in this instance about a pregnant patient with Zika or the birth of a baby with microcephaly -- a birth defect that results in smaller than normal head-size -- which has been associated with a Zika outbreak in Brazil.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued interim evaluation and treatment guidelines for infants born to mothers who traveled or lived in areas with Zika virus outbreaks during their pregnancy, as well as interim guidelines for healthcare providers caring for pregnant women who have traveled to the areas where Zika virus transmission is active. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is working closely with the CDC to coordinate testing for symptomatic pregnant women who have recently traveled to countries with identified Zika transmission. Currently all evaluations are being handled by the CDC.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus in the same family as yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses, with symptoms including fever, rash and conjunctivitis. An estimated 80% of persons infected with Zika virus are asymptomatic and severe cases resulting in hospitalization or fatalities are rare.