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First case of Zika virus reported in Niagara County

A person who traveled outside the country has become the first confirmed case of Zika in Niagara County, the county Department of Health said Friday.

The county received notification from the state Department of Health about the case on April 19, said county Director of Nursing Kathleen Cavagnaro.

The infection was acquired by the person who traveled outside the United States, Cavagnaro said. She said no further information about the case could be released.

“The public is not at risk,” she said.

The virus spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito. It’s transmitted by two types of mosquitoes: Aedes aegypti, which is commonly known as the yellow fever mosquito; and Aedes albopictus, commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito. Neither is common in the Buffalo Niagara area. The Aedes albopictus is found in New York City and Nassau, Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties, according to the state Department of Health.

The Niagara County Health Department has said on Facebook that neither type of mosquito has been found in the county.

About one in five people who get infected with the Zika virus become ill, according to public health officials.

An infection of the Zika virus during pregnancy can cause a birth defect known as microcephaly, where a baby’s head and brain growth is affected, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Other symptoms include headache and muscle pain.

Erie County had its first confirmed case of the virus diagnosed on Feb. 10. The person had been visiting El Salvador.

There have been 54 confirmed Zika cases in New York State between Jan. 1, 2015, and April 13 of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been 358 cases of travel-associated infection in 43 states and the District of Columbia between Jan. 1, 2015, and April 13 of this year. There also have been 471 locally acquired cases in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In mid-February, there were 52 cases in the country outside of New York State and at least 16 within the state.

On Feb. 1, the World Health Organization issued a “public health emergency of international concern” because of the clusters of microcephaly and other disorders appearing in some areas where the virus has been found, according to the CDC.

For more information about Zika, visit cdc.gov/zika.

The state Department of Health’s Zika Information Line is (888) 364-4723 and is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com