PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County now has its first confirmed case of the Zika virus.
A man who’s not being identified traveled to an affected country and then returned to become sick, according to Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department.
“The individual was actually tested in February, but it has taken this long to get the results of this particular test,” said Dr. Hacker. “The individual is no longer ill.”
While the mosquito that transmits Zika is not in our area, one that is may have the potential to spread it, according to Dr. Hacker.
“The challenge is whether the mosquitoes we do have here, in Pennsylvania, do they have the potential to actually transmit that?
There are several types of mosquitoes in the Pittsburgh area, and it’s the Asian Tiger Mosquito that health experts say is the one in our area that has the greatest potential to spread Zika. It has actually spread the virus in a laboratory setting.
“It appears that the mosquitoes we do have here have the potential but the question of whether that will actually actualize, we really don’t know that,” said Dr. Hacker.
As a precaution and because of West Nile Virus, they’re urging people once again to get rid of standing water on their property.
Joanna Patterson runs a mosquito control company called Mosquito Joe and says she’s been getting calls.
“I don’t know that the scientific facts back up a need to fearful in Pittsburgh of Zika, but they are anyway,” said Patterson.
“We’ve been getting calls that are unusual for this time of year. They’re earlier than we normally would get them, and they’re from people who are more concerned about mosquitos this year because they’re hearing about Zika.”
But according to Dr. Hacker, the bottom line on Zika here is: “On a relative scale this is very low risk to our county.”
The Health Department is concerned about people traveling, and it’s advising pregnant women to avoid going to affected countries.
In January, the World Health Organization declared Zika an international health emergency.
WHO estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of the virus in the Americas in the next year.
This is a developing story, stay with KDKA and KDKA.com for more information.