Ohio’s 1st Zika virus cases are woman, man who visited Haiti

CLEVELAND (AP) — Health officials on Tuesday reported the state’s first two cases of the Zika virus, involving two travelers who had visited Haiti.

The cases, involving a 30-year-old Cleveland woman and a 21-year-old Stark County man, are unrelated, the state Department of Health said in a statement. The cases are among about three dozen reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 13 states and Washington, D.C., the department said.

There is no vaccine for the virus, which primarily spreads through bites from a mosquito not typically found in Ohio. It’s possible a different type of mosquito found in the state might transmit the virus, the health department said. Officials plan a preparedness exercise before the state’s mosquito season, which runs from May to October.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see more cases in the state, given the number of people who travel between Ohio and countries being affected by the virus, said Dr. Mary DiOrio, the health department’s medical director.

Many people infected with the virus don’t get sick. Some experience mild illness with symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Health officials are investigating whether there is a link between Zika infections in pregnant women and a rare birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

Officials wouldn’t disclose whether the infected Cleveland woman was pregnant. The woman’s symptoms began in late January, health department spokeswoman Melanie Amato said.