Zika virus suspected in Clark County

Area health officials took steps Saturday to prevent the spread of the Zika virus after a Clark County resident began showing symptoms.

Clark County Health Commissioner Charlie Patterson said the unidentified person recently returned from a trip to a “Zika hot spot” and there is no evidence that the disease has been transmitted locally. State and local health officials were canvassing the Willow Chase neighborhood, north of Springfield, on Saturday to educate people on how to protect themselves.

Patterson said the person exhibited a rash and other symptoms, “almost like someone was reading off the poster in the airport for Zika.”

The patient’s physician contacted the health department, which is running tests to confirm the virus. Results will take up to three weeks.

“We really need to treat this as if it’s positive right now. We can’t wait for results. This is the contagious period,” Patterson said.

The main concern at this point is making sure a mosquito doesn’t pick up the virus, Patterson said. His office is working with the patient to keep him or her quarantined. Health workers canvassed the neighborhood Saturday to speak to neighbors about keeping down the mosquito population.

Neighbors in the Willow Chase neighborhood are following authorities’ advice to stay calm and take precautions.

“I don’t think we are at prime risk for it,” said neighbor Kara Dibert. “(We) just use the usual spray, like the off spray at night if we are outside on the deck.”

Working with the Ohio Department of Health, Patterson’s office is trapping mosquitoes and may consider spraying if the type of mosquito that carries Zika is found.

Patterson said this is the first suspected case of Zika in Clark County and the third in Ohio this year. There were 95 last year, he said, 94 of which were contracted overseas and one was transmitted through sexual contact. None were contracted from infected mosquitoes.

Zika virus symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The virus is typically mild and goes away within a week, according to the health district.

Reporter Caroline Reinwald contributed to this report.

Zika prevention tips

Avoid mosquitos

Wear light-colored clothes with long sleeves and pants

Use mosquito repellant

Remove standing water

Practice safe sex

Avoid travel to Zika-infected areas

Source: Clark County Combined Health District

About the Author