9 people confirmed to have Zika in Ottawa County

The Spread of Zika in Michigan

OTTAWA COUNTY, MICH. - The Ottawa County Health Department says at least nine people, both men and women, have tested positive for the Zika virus.

Health officials say all the cases are travel related.

The people involved had returned home from places like Mexico and Central America. There are no pregnant women among them.

Health officials caution, the virus can still be spread through sexual transmission for up to six months.

"We have nine confirmed cases of Zika Virus disease so far as of the end of August," says Marcia Mansaray, epidemiologist for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. "You think, 'are we going to see this here?', and so when you get those first cases it is a little startling."

The cases involve seven women and two men ranging from teenager to about fifty years old. They all contracted the virus outside the U.S.

"Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Haiti are the countries where we have had cases that were bitten by mosquitos carrying the virus," says Mansaray. "It's a pretty large amount for a county our size, there's 46 total cases in Michigan, so 9 of those 46 are just in Ottawa County, so we are taking that very seriously."

Mansaray says the good news is none of the local cases involved pregnant women because Zika Virus can cause serious birth defects.

"Our biggest concern will be if we get a pregnant female," says Mansaray.

The type of mosquitos that carry Zika have not been found in Michigan, but sexual transmission is a concern.

"The most recent guidance on that from the World Health Organization is they are wanting people to have a six month period of abstinence or protected sex," says Mansaray.

Health officials are now urging other travelers to know where Zika Virus is a problem.

"It's surprising how many people come back and didn't know before they left," says Mansaray. "Find out the countries where Zika is present and where there are outbreaks and don't go there for right now."

Close to 50 people have been tested for Zika Virus in Ottawa County. The results of some of those tests are still pending. 


Additional cases are pending lab results.


(© 2016 WZZM)


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