By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
The first reported case of the Zika Virus in Michigan occurred in Ingham County on Feb. 23, health officials said in a press release.
The patient, a female resident of Ingham County, caught the virus when traveling in a country where Zika can be passed on, according to the release.
The patient, who was not pregnant, had Zika symptoms shortly after returning to Michigan, according to the release.
“This person who has/had Zika, picked it up elsewhere,” Dr. Edward D. (“Ned”) Walker, professor in the Department of Entomology and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University, said. “Almost any Zika case you get in the United States is going to be travel-related.”
While traveling to countries Zika is found, you should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Also, be sure to stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out, according to the release.
“This is the time of year when many Michigan residents are traveling to warmer climates. If you have plans to travel to areas where Zika Virus is present, take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. If you are pregnant, or may become pregnant, consider postponing your trip,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
“Zika has a lot of the same characteristics as the other mosquito-transmitted viruses, which will give you flu-like symptoms and chills,” Michael Kaufman, professor of natural science at the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University, said. “I think Zika is more prone to give you a rash, joint pain, and is more severe for pregnant women.”
Brazil is the most common place for Zika. But parts of Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Colombia and Puerto Rico are all places Zika is as well, Kaufman said.
“These are all places where there are mosquito species that can transmit the disease,” Kaufman said. “The type of mosquitoes, the proximity, and the number of mosquitoes are all beneficial in these countries.”
The mosquitoes that are responsible for transmitting Zika make good vector, Kaufman said.
“They have the ability to pick up the virus,” Kaufman said. “The virus then can replicate very easily in the mosquito and will spread to its salivary glands, which is stuff they use when they stick their proboscis into your skin (mosquito bite). The mosquitoes have to pick it up from the blood of one person who has the virus. Then, the virus has to replicate in the mosquito, and the same mosquito has to bite another person. So, all mosquitoes aren’t equally competent at transmitting the virus. The virus may not develop in many species right.”
These mosquitoes that are transmitting the disease in Central America and elsewhere in the world are very good at living with humans, Kaufman said.
“They kind of co-evolved with humans and Aedes aegypti (vector in yellow fever mosquitoes), which is the most primary vector for spreading Zika,” Kaufman said. “They also live around humans and like to live in and around houses. It can breed and that’s one of the reasons Zika spreads in urban areas so well.”
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are not found in Michigan, according to the release.
“Aedes aegypti can live well in highly-dense populated human areas,” Kaufman said. “A lot of these places are kind of poor, so they don’t have window screening, or they leave containers out to collect rain water. The mosquitoes can breed in that same water. So, it’s a combination of these mosquitoes being able to transmit the virus internally and then the proximity, it likes to live near people and it likes to feed on people.”
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections, Debbie Edokpolo, Ingham County Deputy Health Officer, said.
“Patients are recommended to get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce fever and pain,” Edokpolo, said. “Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If patients are taking medicine for another medical condition, they should talk to their doctor before taking additional medication.”