Travel-related Zika Virus reported in Oregon

All 3 cases involved people who traveled to Polynesia

A female Aedes albopictus mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)
This 2003 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes albopictus mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There have been 31 cases of the Zika Virus in the United States, the CDC said, and all involved people who recently returned from an area where the virus is active.

The Zika Virus is spread by a certain species of mosquito and is suspected of causing birth defects, mostly in Central and South America. The CDC is urging pregnant women to postpone traveling to areas where the Zika Virus transmission is happening.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Jonathan Modie told KOIN 6 News there have been travel-related cases in the state — one case in 2014 and two cases in 2015. All three cases involved people who had traveled to Polynesia.

Map from the CDC/CBS News, Jan. 28, 2016
Map from the CDC/CBS News, Jan. 28, 2016

Local health leaders had no information on whether any of those 3 people were pregnant.

Doctors at OHSU who spoke with KOIN 6 News said most people never even know they have the Zika Virus.

The Pacific Northwest does not have this particular species of mosquito

“This virus causes in some people, one in 5, a mild, systemic illness, kind of the fever-chills-muscle pains, that kind of thing. Very mild,” said Dr. Aaron Caughey from OHSU.

The CDC is advising pregnant women in any trimester to postpone travel to 2 dozen countries — mostly in Central and South America and the Caribbean — where Zika transmission is ongoing.

Health officials suspect the virus is responsible for a spike in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads in Brazil.

“The increased incidence of microcephaly is particularly alarming,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization.

The WHO is warning there could be 3 to 4 million cases of Zika Virus in the Americas over the next year.

“When a mosquito bites an infected person and then transmits to a different person through a bite,” said Dr. Dawn Nolt of Doernbecher.

But what about the US?

“We do not believe there will be a major outbreak of Zika in the United States,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

This species of mosquito  — Aedes species mosquito — does live in some of the hot, muggy Southern states. While there may be some cases there, US health leaders believe access to air conditioning, protective screesn and better mosquito control in the US in general should help keep a large outbreak at bay.

The Pacific Northwest does not have this particular species of mosquito and officials at OHA said local transmission here is unlikely.