No Idahoan has been diagnosed with the Zika virus so far. In the entire U.S., as of April 13, only 358 cases have been diagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of those cases were travel-related.
Travel-related Zika cases have been diagnosed in states surrounding Idaho. Montana has reported one case. Oregon has reported six. Nevada, Washington and Utah have each reported two cases.
Still, some Idahoans have been concerned that they may have been exposed to the virus and have sought tests, say spokespeople for local health districts. Tom Shanahan, public information manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said people should go to their primary care provider for a test if they have Zika symptoms, have traveled to an area with Zika or have a sexual partner who recently traveled to those areas.
“Their provider can take a blood sample and submit it to our state lab. At the state lab we can test for possible infection,” said Shanahan.
If a person wants to be tested for antibodies for Zika, which would indicate they had Zika viral infection in the past, their provider could submit a blood sample to the state lab, which would send the sample to the CDC for testing, Shanahan added. An example would be a woman who traveled or lived in a Zika area while pregnant.
Treasure Valley health districts also say they’re referring people to their primary care providers, though the Southwest and Central district health departments can help answer providers’ questions on topics like submitting to the CDC. Christine Myron with Central District Health says her office is fielding 2-3 calls a week from Idahoans concerned about Zika.
Zika can be transmitted via mosquito bite, from mother to child during delivery or pregnancy, or through sexual contact and blood transfusions. Zika symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes. It can also occur without symptoms.
Aedes aegypti, the main species of mosquito that spreads Zika, does not live in Idaho. Maps from the CDC show the species’ range: In the U.S., it’s primarily in the South, but does live as far north in the Eastern U.S. as Connecticut and in American territories like Puerto Rico.