Wake County resident contracts Zika virus while traveling outside the US

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A Wake County resident contracted the Zika virus while traveling overseas (WTVD)

Public health officials in Wake County say a woman traveling outside the United States contracted the Zika virus and began showing symptoms after returning.

While it's the first case in Wake County, there have now been five reported statewide.

Health officials say the woman is not of child-bearing age and traveled to South and Central Americas within the past month.

They say she went to a private doctor and tests came back positive for Zika.

The patient is now being monitored.

"We want to reassure citizens that there is currently no risk of transmission from this patient to others," said Sue Lynn Ledford, public health division director of Wake County.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 100 cases of travel-associated Zika virus disease in the United States; however, there are zero cases of transmission by mosquitoes in the United States.

"We know this is going to be an on-going issue for us," Ledford said. "We have a lot of travelers that are in and out of the countries that are most affected."

Scientists suspect an outbreak of the Zika virus is behind a surge in a rare birth defect in Brazil. It began after Brazilian doctors noticed an increase last fall in babies with a birth defect called microcephaly, which has a number of causes. The cases closely followed the country's first outbreak of the tropical virus Zika, which was thought to cause no more than a mild illness that clears up in a week.

In this Dec. 23, 2015 photo, Solange Ferreira bathes her son Jose Wesley in a bucket at their house in Poco Fundo, Pernambuco state, Brazil.

Microcephaly hadn't been seen in past Zika outbreaks. Babies with the condition have a smaller than normal head and often have a smaller brain that hasn't developed properly. Lab tests have detected the virus in the brain tissue of a few babies with microcephaly.

For additional information about Zika virus disease, visit the Wake County Public Health Division's mosquito prevention webpage or cdc.gov/zika.

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