Thursday, June 09, 2016

Alleghany County PA: Zika Infection Of Lab Worker By Needle Stick


We've a statement today from the Allegheny County Health Department on what appears to be the first documented case of Zika transmission via an inadvertent needle stick.

Media reports identify the victim as a female University of Pittsburgh researcher who accidentally stuck herself with a needle May 23 while working with the virus.

While undoubtedly a rare accident, it isn't terribly surprising that a blood borne pathogen like Zika could be transmitted this way.

The CDC's Biosafety Guidance for Transportation of Specimens and for Work with Zika Virus in the Laboratory calls for Biosafety Level 2 precautions when handling these specimens. 

The statement from the Allegheny County Health Department follows:

Health Department Reports Fourth Confirmed Case of Zika in the County

Virus Contracted in an Isolated Lab Incident

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) today reported the fourth confirmed case of the Zika virus (Zika) in the county.

The person who contracted Zika is a female. This is a unique case in that the individual has not traveled to an affected area, nor was she infected through sexual transmission. She contracted the virus from a needle stick while working with the Zika virus on an experiment in a laboratory. Her symptoms have resolved and she is doing well.

“We want to remind residents that, despite this rare incident, there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitos in Allegheny County. For those traveling to countries affected by Zika, we urge caution. Pregnant women particularly should avoid travel to affected countries.” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department.”

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which is common in warm climates. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week, although the majority of persons infected with the virus do not have any symptoms. Zika virus infection has been linked to fetal malformations. There is no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to treat, Zika virus infection.

While local mosquito transmission of Zika has not been documented in Allegheny County or Pennsylvania, residents are still urged to protect themselves from insect borne infections as the weather gets warmer. Insect repellant containing DEET should be used, and removing standing water from property can also help to alleviate mosquito breeding.

Ongoing updates on additional confirmed cases will be posted on the Health Department’s website. Additional resources, including links to the PA Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may also be found on the site. The page also contains information on the number of residents tested, and the number of confirmed cases of the virus. A total of 109 residents have been approved for Zika testing to date. 

Individuals who have traveled to affected areas who have symptoms of Zika or are pregnant should contact their primary physician, or may call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD (2243).

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