According to DPH officials, the patient, who was not identified, became ill with a fever and rash while travelling in South America. It was during this trip that the patient conceived. The patient has since returned to South America.
DPH officials said they contacted the patient’s Connecticut physician Tuesday with the positive result, and are working to get in touch with the patient or her family to ensure that she seeks medical care while she is out of the country. Scientists at the DPH positively identified specific antibodies in the patient’s blood, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed their findings.
This level of testing, approved for the State Laboratory by the CDC in April, allows the State Laboratory to test specimens from potentially infected patients who either did not become ill or were ill but tested more than a week after the onset of symptoms. Prior to this approval from the CDC, specimens were sent to the CDC for testing, with an average turnaround of one month or longer for test results.
“We are working with the patient’s physician to ensure that both the physician and the patient have all the necessary information and guidance they need,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino. “This virus is very dangerous for the babies of pregnant women, causing serious birth defects and miscarriages. It is extremely important for women who plan to become pregnant or who are pregnant to postpone travel to Zika affected areas. If travel cannot be avoided, women must take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites: wear insect repellant and long sleeves and pants, and stay in locations with window and door screens or air conditioning, if possible.”
Commissioner Pino also stressed that the male partners of women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant must also take precautions if they travel to Zika affected areas. In order to avoid sexual transmission of the virus to their partner, men who have traveled should follow these guidelines:
• Men diagnosed with Zika or who had symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin.
• Men who have traveled to an area with Zika but did not develop symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after their return.
In Connecticut, 245 patients, including 217 pregnant women, have been tested for Zika virus to date. Today’s result is the third positive test in Connecticut, and the first for a pregnant woman.