First case of Zika virus infection by sexual transmission reported in Pennsylvania

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pa Health Department has confirmed the first case of Zika virus infection by sexual transmission.

“A Pennsylvania resident contracted the Zika virus from a mosquito while traveling outside of the state in an area where Zika transmission is occurring.” said Secretary Karen Murphy. “Upon returning to the commonwealth, the person passed it via sexual transmission to their partner. In light of this, we remind residents to practice safe sex, especially if they have traveled to an area with Zika-infected mosquitoes. Infections with the Zika virus may be present without symptoms.  If you have traveled to an area where Zika virus is present, condoms or other barrier protection methods should be used during sex for eight weeks upon return to prevent sexual transmission.  Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should discuss with their doctors any travel plans to Zika-affected locations.”

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause mild symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye. Zika rarely kills or causes serious disease. However, the virus presents a major threat to pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant. Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to serious birth defects including microcephaly, which causes newborns to be born with heads smaller than normal.

Other measures that people can take to prevent mosquito bites include:

  • Applying an EPA-registered insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing;
  • Wearing light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers hands, arms, legs and other exposed skin;
  • Staying and sleeping in air-conditioned or screened rooms or under a mosquito net when outdoors; and
  • Staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active.

At this time, no cases of Zika in Pennsylvania have occurred as a result of local mosquito transmission. As temperatures remain high in the commonwealth throughout the late summer months, there remains risk of limited local transmission of Zika virus by an affected mosquito.

Although the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary carrier of the Zika virus, Aedes albopictus can also carry the disease. The Department of Environmental Protection has not found Aedes aegypti in Pennsylvania since 2002. However, the department has found Aedes albopictus throughout major metropolitan areas of southern Pennsylvania.

The Aedes types of mosquitoes bite during the daytime. To control all mosquitoes outside your home or business:

  • Install or repair and use window and door screens.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold standing water where mosquitoes may lay eggs, like buckets, toys, pools, birdbaths or trash containers.
  • Use an outdoor flying insect spray in dark, humid areas where mosquitoes rest, like under patio furniture or under the carport or garage.
  • Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes with wire mesh that consists of holes smaller than an adult mosquito.

Additional information on Zika virus can be found on the Department of Health’s website,

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