Fourth Zika case is confirmed in New Hampshire

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CONCORD, N.H. – A fourth victim of the Zika virus has cropped up in New Hampshire, including two pregnant women, Granite State health officials have confirmed, according to several reports Tuesday.

Almost 200 people have been tested for the mosquito-borne illness which has been linked to birth defects when contracted by pregnant women, the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper reported, citing the state Bureau of Infectious Disease Control’s Infectious Disease Surveillance Section. In addition to the four positives, results of 13 tests are still awaited.

The type of mosquito that harbors the virus isn’t present in New Hampshire, the Union Leader reported, so health officials say all the cases have resulted from travel to areas where the bugs proliferate or sexual intercourse with infected people. There is no known treatment for the virus or vaccine to prevent contracting it.

Zika has been most prevalent in tropical areas and in countries such as Brazil, prompting concerns about travel to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro this summer. As of May 25, there were 591 Zika cases reported in the U.S., all of them associated with travel or relations with travelers, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. It listed 16 confirmed cases in Massachusetts, five in Maine, four in Rhode Island and one each in Vermont and Connecticut. By comparison, 127 have been reported in New York state.

The four New Hampshire residents infected with Zika all either traveled to areas where the virus is present or had sex with people who had visited those areas, the newspaper said, citing Jake Leon, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Leon told the paper that four Zika victims pose no public health risk.

“If they were at risk of infecting people in the community, we would identify the community,” Leon told the Union Leader. The first Zika case in the Granite State was confirmed in March, according to WBZ-TV in Boston. The first case in Massachusetts was reported in January.

Most people who are infected by Zika don’t get sick, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston. If an infected person does get sick, the symptoms generally show up within two to seven days, according to a state fact sheet. An infected person may still be able to transmit the virus for as long as six months.

Pregnant women are most at risk from Zika, health officials warn. It advises pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant to avoid travel to areas where the Aedes species of mosquito is present. The CDC in Atlanta describes these bugs as “aggressive daytime biters” but they also feed at night. Maps posted by the public health service show almost all of Latin America and the Caribbean as areas where Zika infection is a risk, except Chile and Uruguay.