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First case of Zika virus in Rhode island

PROVIDENCE: A man is his 60s is Rhode Island’s first confirmed case of the Zika virus, the state Department of Health confirmed Tuesday.

Health officials say the man recently travelled to Haiti, where there is active mosquito-borne transmission of the disease.

We have been closely monitoring the Zika situation internationally and have been coordinating with Rhode Island healthcare providers for months. We were fully prepared for this first case, said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH.

While the risk to the public is very low, we are coordinating with doctors, especially those who work with pregnant women, on how best to identify symptoms and educate patients about prevention.

Health officials said Zika is spread primarily through bites from infected mosquitoes. It can also be spread sexually.

We don’t expect locally-acquired cases here because the species of mosquitoes that are currently known to transmit Zika are not found in Rhode Island. However, Rhode Islanders who are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to countries where there is active transmission of the virus. said Dr. Alexander-Scott.