ATLANTA (AP/NBC News) – Health officials say the first travel-related case of the Zika virus has infected a person from Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the person traveled to Colombia between the end of December and the first of January. Officials say the unidentified person has made a full recovery. The person was not pregnant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still testing specimens from several other Georgia residents who traveled to areas with Zika outbreaks.
The virus, primarily spread through mosquito bites, has been linked to birth defects in the Americas.
U.S. health officials say a person in Texas became infected with Zika through sex, in the first case of the illness being transmitted within the United States amid the current outbreak in Latin America.
Fears surrounding the Zika virus might hurt the travel industry.
Though its symptoms are generally mild, the concern about the Zika virus is mainly for pregnant women: Brazil has seen a 20-fold higher incidence of the birth defect microcephaly as cases of Zika soared. Microcephaly leads to smaller heads and less developed brains in babies.
The link isn’t proven, but officials are concerned. Some countries in the region have advised women to delay pregnancy, and the CDC advises pregnant women to delay travel to those areas where Zika is spreading.
The united states has had more than 30 cases reported, but they’ve been among travelers to the more than 20 affected countries in Central and South America.
The Zika virus is carried by the aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever and chikungunya. Tthey’re mainly found in the warm, southernmost parts of the United States, where mosquito control efforts have curbed outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya.
Another group with exposure to the area: cruise lines. The Caribbean is a key location for cruise companies; for Carnival, the region accounts for about a third of its passengers. Stocks of Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings all have had a tough start to the year.
While there’s no treatment or vaccine for Zika available now, work is underway.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH says a vaccine likely wouldn’t be ready for several years. The best bet, officials say, is to protect against mosquitoes.