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Zika Virus Comes to Montana – Should You Worry?

Montana is the 25th state in the nation to report a travel-associated case of Zika.


Zika Virus Comes to Montana – Should You Worry?

The Zika virus has been making headlines around the world. While reason tells us to be concerned about the virus, is there a cause for panic?

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) describes the virus as an infection caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, usually causing mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain.

About four out of five people who get infected do not become sick. For the small percentage of people that do show symptoms, the Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting 2-7 days.

Treatment is directed primarily at relieving symptoms using antipyretics and analgesics.

The symptoms are usually mild, but the virus has been linked with serious health problems in pregnant women, primarily a birth defect called microcephaly that has been found in children born to women who had a Zika infection. Microcephaly usually is the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth.

Additionally, an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been observed in areas where a Zika virus epidemic has been documented (e.g., in French Polynesia and Brazil).

This is a fairly new virus that up until now has been very limited geographically, and there is little evidence that it can cause death. However, sporadic cases have been reported of more serious cases and complications in patients with preexisting diseases or conditions, causing death.

Basically, people who have traveled to Zika-affected countries and are pregnant or have symptoms of Zika illness should contact their health care provider, as standard safety precautions apply.

The Missoulan is reporting that the first case of the virus in Montana has been reported in Missoula County.

The patient is a woman who has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area. She is not pregnant. Her name, or country of travel, is not being disclosed to protect her privacy.

Montana is the 25th state in the nation to report a travel-associated case of Zika.

Based on current information, I am not prepared to worry about this, as yet. However, if you have traveled recently to a country with a Zika outbreak, and are showing symptoms, please contact your health care provider.

Stay tuned to for updates on this issue.



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