Iowa Resident Tests Positive for Zika Virus

Travel-associated case is not a threat to general public

Image of a mosquito
Feb. 19, 2016 -- The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Feb. 19 announced that an Iowa resident, who recently traveled to countries with ongoing Zika virus transmission, has tested positive for the virus. Following approval of Zika testing by IDPH, health care providers sent specimens to the State Hygienic Laboratory, which then routed them to the CDC for analysis. The older adult (61 to 80 years of age) female has recently traveled to Central America.

“The general public is not at risk of contracting this virus, because the mosquitoes that transmit Zika are not established in Iowa,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, IDPH Medical Director. “However, Iowans traveling to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission should take care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

The CDC is currently advising pregnant women to delay travel to foreign countries where Zika is being transmitted. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (meaning small head) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies whose mothers were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about their plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. The CDC is currently recommending that pregnant women with male sexual partners who have traveled to or lived in an area with active Zika virus transmission should either abstain from sex or use condoms correctly during every incidence of vaginal, oral or anal sex throughout the pregnancy.

The CDC is investigating a possible link between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare neurological condition which causes varying degrees of paralysis; in addition, in areas where Zika transmission is ongoing, mosquitoes may also carry diseases like dengue or chikungunya. Therefore, any traveler (males, females and children) visiting areas with ongoing Zika transmission should carefully follow steps to avoid mosquito bites:

The Zika virus illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week, and hospitalizations are rare. Most people exposed to Zika virus won’t develop any symptoms at all. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for the virus. To learn more about Zika virus, including a link to a Zika-affected travel map, visit