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First Case of Zika Virus in W.Va. Pregnant Woman

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Credit Ashton Marra / WV Public Broadcasting
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The first case of Zika virus in a pregnant woman has been reported in West Virginia. The diagnosis brings the state’s total confirmed cases to eight.

State commissioner for public health Rahul Gupta says all eight cases of Zika reported in West Virginia were contracted during travel to countries where the virus is active.  Gupta says the risk of contracting Zika in West Virginia remains low, but residents should be cautious about mosquito bites.

“I think it’s important to understand and keep in perspective that this is a virus, an infection that’s happened in about eight of our residents all of whom have traveled abroad and as a result have acquired the infection,” he said.

Gupta urged caution for women of childbearing age traveling abroad to areas where Zika is endemic. A few tips? Use protection, delay pregnancy until you’ve been back eight or more weeks and protect yourself against bites while you are there with insect repellent and appropriate clothing. Zika in the early stages of pregnancy is known to be associated with birth defects.

The current case is being monitored by the office of Maternal, Child and Family Health through the U.S. Zika Pregnancy registry.  36 people in West Virginia have been tested for the virus so far this year. 

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Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.

Copyright 2016 West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kara Leigh Lofton is the Appalachia Health News Coordinator at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Previously Kara was a freelance reporter for WMRA, an affiliate of NPR serving the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville in Virginia. There she produced 70 radio reports in her first year of reporting, most often on health or environmental topics. One of her reports, “Trauma Workers Find Solace in a Pause That Honors Life After a Death,” circulated nationally after proving to be an all-time favorite among WMRA’s audience.