RICHMOND – The Zika virus hasn't been found in any Virginia mosquitoes, Department of Health Commissioner Marissa Levine said this week.
That means state health officials haven't found evidence of the virus being transmitted from a person in Virginia into a local mosquito. Once that happens, health officials fear an increase in infections, which can cause birth defects if they occur during pregnancy.
So far only Virginians who've traveled to warmer regions, where the virus is more common, have been diagnosed with the disease, Virginia Department of Health figures indicate. Nearly 1,400 residents have been tested and only 80 cases were confirmed or considered probable as of Sept. 7, the department said.
That number could go up: Nearly 300 test results were still pending when Levine reported figures Thursday to the State Board of Health.
As for Virginia mosquitoes, some 32,000 have been tested for the virus. Hampton Roads, along with the Washington, D.C., and Richmond areas and are the focal points for testing because they have the highest populations and, likely, the most people who have travelled to regions where Zika is more common.
"This is a really serious virus and we will be dealing with it for years," Levine said during a brief presentation to the board.
Zika is spread by mosquitoes, but can also be passed on through sexual contact. There is no vaccine or medication to treat it. More information is available online at cdc.gov/zika.
Fain can be reached by phone at 757-525-1759.