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Lab Researcher Accidentally Infects Herself With Zika

Jun 13, 2016 07:36 AM EDT
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A researcher from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania accidentally infected herself with Zika virus while conducting an experiment in the laboratory, university officials said.

The woman accidentally pricked herself with a needle on May 23 while doing an experiment on the virus. Nine days later, she started experiencing Zika-like symptoms, including fever. The university had received a confirmation that the woman tested positive for Zika.

"On advice of the ACHD (Allegheny County Health Department), the researcher is complying with a request to wear long sleeves and pants and wear insect repellent for three weeks from the date of contact," the university said in a statement as reported by CNN.

The ACHD has confirmed that the woman's symptoms have resolved and that she is doing well. According to ACHD officials, the case is unique because the person has not traveled to an affected area and has not been infected through sexual transmission.

This is the fourth Zika-related case in the Pennsylvania county. "We want to remind residents that, despite this rare incident, there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitos in Allegheny County," Dr. Karen Hacker, director of ACHD, said in a press release.

"For those traveling to countries affected by Zika, we urge caution. Pregnant women particularly should avoid travel to affected countries," she added.

While the county has not yet documented local mosquito transmission of Zika, residents are still encouraged to protect themselves from insect-borne infections especially during warm weather.

According to a report in CNN, almost all infected individuals in the U.S. were infected while traveling in Zika-affected destinations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urge health care workers to take the necessary precautions when handling the virus to prevent exposures.

CDC emergency response teams are ready to be deployed when local transmission of the virus has been confirmed in the U.S., CDC director Tom Frieden told CNN. The Zika response plan had been created with inputs from state and local officials, outlining protocols for initial response during a case of local transmission.

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