By Gary Evans, Senior Writer, AHC Media
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 infected occupationally is recovering nicely, the Allegheny County (PA) Health Department (ACHD) reports.
The case appears to be the first documented instance of Zika transmission via needlestick, although healthcare 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 virus 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 reportedly was advised to cover up when outside and use insect repellent to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others via a mosquito bite.
In other Zika news, the CDC has found persistent mosquito populations in a square-mile area of Miami where 14 people, at press time, have acquired the Zika virus. The agency has issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid the area of transmission.
The CDC recommendations include the following:
- Pregnant women should not travel to the identified area.
- Pregnant women and their partners living in this area should consistently follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.
- Pregnant women who traveled to this area on or after June 15, 2016, should talk with their healthcare provider and should be tested for Zika. (For the latest on Zika from AHC Media, publisher of Same-Day Surgery, visit reliasmedia.com/Zika.)