A second travel-related case of the Zika virus was confirmed by federal health officials late last week, the N.J. Department of Health said today.
The newest case involved a woman in Hudson County who had acquired the virus while visiting Honduras.
“There is no public health risk because the woman was exposed to mosquitoes in Honduras,” the state department of health statement indicated. That statement did not indicate the woman’s age or town.
The state’s first travel-related case was last December, when a woman who had been exposed to the virus in Colombia got sick when she was visiting Bergen County. She fully recovered and returned Colombia.
The Zika virus is mainly transmitted from mosquitoes. It is not spread from person-to-person except by sexual relations.
In the meantime, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added two more Caribbean countries to its list of destinations that pregnant women should avoid: St. Vincent and the Grenadines & Sint Maarten.
The virus produces no symptoms in most of the people exposed to it. Those who do get sick usually have a mild illness with fever, rash, and “pink eye.”
However, the situation is far more dire for pregnant women, whose developing fetuses are now thought to be extremely vulnerable to the virus. A spike in the number of cases of microcephaly, or an abnormally small head, started turning up in Brazil at the end of last year.
The CDC as well as other researchers are trying to determine whether the virus – relatively new to South America – definitively causes birth defects.
State health officials, including Acting Commissioner Cathleen Bennett and State Epidemiologist Tina Tan will talk about the Zika virus later this week at Montclair State University, where a group is scheduled to travel to Brazil next month.1″New Jersey does not expect to see Zika outbreaks based on many years of mosquito control and monitoring in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and local government,” Tan said.
The main mosquito that transmits Zika isn’t prevalent in New Jersey – although it can make a limited appearance here during the summer. A second mosquito that is more common in New Jersey can also transmit Zika – but doesn’t naturally prefer to bite humans, according to entomologists.
Tan also pointed out that the United States’ experience with other mosquito-borne viruses like dengue and chikungunya have been largely travel-imported cases that have not led to widespread outbreaks.