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Zika tests on Virginia mosquitoes negative – so far

Posted at 12:49 PM, Aug 02, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. — Nearly a month after Virginia started testing local mosquitoes for Zika virus, no mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus.

The Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) began testing mosquitoes in targeted areas of central and southeast Virginia last month.

“It is important to recognize that mosquito surveillance is mostly done to determine whether and where control is necessary. Mosquito traps tell us where mosquitoes are abundant or scarce and this information guides control decisions/efforts. Testing the trapped mosquitoes for Zika virus can provide evidence that local transmission is occurring, because the collection of infected mosquitoes can indicate that infected mosquitoes are loose in the environment,” Laurie Forlano, the Director of the State Office of Epidemiology, said.

Forlano said just because testing has not found any Zika-infected mosquitoes does not mean they do not exist in Virginia.

“Mosquito testing often yield negative results because trapping efforts may not actually capture the one infected mosquito that is in the environment,” she said. “However, if many mosquitoes are tested and none are positive that may be an indication that there are no infected mosquitoes present, or that the infection rate and associated risk of an infectious mosquito bite are very low.”

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unprecedented travel warning, advising pregnant women and their partners not to travel to a small community just north of downtown Miami, where Zika is actively circulating.

This is the first time the CDC has warned people not to travel to an American neighborhood for fear of obtaining a infectious disease, according to agency spokesman Tom Skinner.

There have been 38 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Virginia so far.

“All Virginia Zika virus infections have been associated with travel abroad, but we are ramping up efforts in preparation for locally transmitted cases where a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites someone else,” Governor McAuliffe said last month.

Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Both types of mosquitoes are found in Virginia during mosquito season (May 1 through October 31).

“The virus also can be spread during sexual intercourse with a male partner or from mother to her unborn child, which could cause birth defects,” the state advised. “There is no vaccine for the virus, so health officials encourage individuals to avoid mosquito bites.”

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The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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