WASHINGTON - The D.C. Department of Health has confirmed three D.C. residents have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, including one case involving a pregnant woman.
“They do see their health care provider, so we constantly monitor the situation and make sure that their health is fine,” said D.C. Department of Health Senior Deputy Director Angali Talwalkar.
She said in all three cases, these residents traveled abroad to Zika-infected regions. They reportedly contracted the virus there before returning to the District.
“What we really try to tell people are – who is really at the highest risk and that is going to be pregnant women,” said Talwalkar. “There are some special precautions we can take with that group. We want them to see their health care provider if they have had recent travel to an infected area just so they can be monitored.”
One case was diagnosed in last May.
“Since 2016, we have had two cases – one male, one female – both of them were travel-related to Central and South America,” Talwalker said.
The announcement of these Zika cases in D.C. comes just days after the World Health Organization declared the virus an international public health emergency. Also, one Zika case in Texas was the result of sexual transmission.
Even so, Talwalkar hopes to calm fears with facts.
“Zika is not an infectious disease that is airborne or that is really going to put the general public at risk,” said Talwalkar.
The D.C. Department of Health is also conversing with local and federal authorities about how to prevent the virus from originating here.
“So we control that like we do any other mosquito-borne disease, which is controlling the mosquito population,” said Talwalker. “So that is really more of a summertime thing in the District as well as around the globe.”
The University of Maryland sent out an alert to its campus community warning them about Zika’s dangers. The alert comes ahead of the spring break season and targets those planning to travel to areas affected by the virus and urges the campus to take precautions.
The D.C. Department of Health issued the following statement:
"The DC Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and track Zika virus infections in DC residents. It is important for residents to remember that there is no immediate threat to their health and well-being if they have not travelled to the known affected areas. However, we must all stay well informed and be cautious when traveling internationally. DOH has created a webpage that will be regularly updated, with a fact sheet on the Zika Virus and other key information to ensure that all DC residents are engaged and informed.”
More information on the Zika virus can be found here.