W&M student contracts Zika virus

The Virginia Gazette
Williamsburg college student contracts Zika virus

A William and Mary student contracted the Zika virus while traveling in Central America during winter break, but does not pose a health risk, school officials said.

The student is still enrolled and she is doing well, director of news and media Suzanne Seurattan said Tuesday. The university did not release her name or any other information on the student.

School officials said the student, who hasn't shown symptoms, is expected to make a full recovery from the virus that the World Health Organization had declared a global health emergency due to its link to birth defects.

Zika is not a new virus. There have been outbreaks reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Zika virus can be transmitted from a mosquito bite, a blood transfusion or sexual contact, and in rare cases, from a mother already infected near the time of her child's birth. WHO believes Zika causes microcephaly, a birth defect where children are born with abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.

One in five people infected with the Zika virus will get sick, the agency reports. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis or red eyes. Symptoms can last for several days to a week, the CDC said.

After consulting with the school's health and wellness team and the Centers for Disease Control, university officials believe there is no health risk to anyone on campus, said Ginger Ambler, vice president for student affairs.

To date, local transmission of Zika virus hasnotbeen identified in the continental United States. However, those who travel to a country where Zika is found could be infected if bitten by a mosquito, the national health agency reports.

William and Mary's Reves Center For International Studies posted a CDC travel advisory on Zika for students in late January.

"We have mechanisms in place to track William and Mary-related travel and the Reves Center will certainly work with anyone wishing to have more information or talk to someone who doesn't feel comfortable traveling to a Zika infected country," William and Mary's International Travel and Security Manager Nick Vasquez said in an email published by The flat Hat student newspaper.

For more information about the Zika virus, visit the CDC's website: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html.

Reach Canty at (757) 345-2341.

How to prevent Zika virus

Since it is primarily spread through mosquito bites, there is no vaccine, but people can take the following precautions if they are traveling in a country where the virus has been reported:

Wear EPA-registered insect repellents

Re-apply repellents as directed

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outside

Treat clothing and gear with permethrin, or used items already treated in permethrin

Sleep under a mosquito net

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