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Two cases of Zika virus has been confirmed in Stark County

By MARC KOVACDix Capital Correspondent Published: February 10, 2016 3:51 PM

COLUMBUS -- State health officials have confirmed two cases of the Zika virus, adding to more than 30 cases nationally reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 30-year-old Cleveland-area woman and a 21-year-old Stark County man, both recent travelers to Haiti, have the virus. More cases likely will surface, as people who have traveled to affected countries return home.

Zika is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites, and health officials say there's no indication that it can be spread through casual contact (though one U.S. case was confirmed via sexual contact).

Of those who are infected, health officials say most have no symptoms. Others may have mild fevers, rashes, joint and muscle pains or headaches that last from several days to a week, but "hospitalization is uncommon."

Of primary concern, however, is the virus' link to infections in pregnant women and certain birth defects; the CDC is recommending pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant consider postponing travel to affected areas, including Central America, South America and Caribbean countries.

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"There is no vaccine available for Zika virus so it's important for Ohioans traveling to affected areas to take steps to prevent mosquito bites," Mary DiOrio, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health, said in a released statement. "There have been no reported cases of Zika virus disease transmission through mosquito bites anywhere in the continental U.S."

But the message to most Ohioans for the moment: don't panic.

"There's no immediate threat," said Melanie Amato, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Health.

State health officials are preparing to respond if there are outbreaks during the 2016 mosquito season, between May and October.

"Prevention of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission is the same as prevention of any other mosquito-borne diseases," DiOrio said. "This includes taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites - such as using insect repellents, limiting exposure where and when mosquitoes are most active, and removing breeding sources such as containers that collect standing water."


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