The question of whether Zika virus can be transmitted via needlestick is no longer hypothetical.
As feared, the virus can, indeed, transmit to a healthcare worker who suffers a percutaneous injury, but a Pittsburgh lab worker who was occupationally infected is recovering nicely, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) reports.
The case appears to be the first documented instance of Zika transmission via needlestick, though public health and hospital officials have warned since the epidemic began that it was certainly possible. It underscores that healthcare workers must be vigilant with infection control precautions and needle safety to protect themselves from Zika and a host of other bloodborne pathogens.
The woman “contracted the virus from a needlestick while working with the Zika on an experiment in a laboratory. Her symptoms have resolved and she is doing well,” Allegheny health officials reported. The needlestick reportedly occurred on May 23 at a University of Pittsburgh lab, with the worker becoming symptomatic about a week later and then fully recovering.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. While now a confirmed occupational threat to healthcare and lab workers, Zika is primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes and can be transmitted sexually.
The worker was reportedly advised to cover up when outside and use insect repellent to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others via a mosquito bite.