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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Lab Worker Becomes First Case of Zika Transmission by Needlestick

June 10th, 2016

By Gary Evans, AHC Media Senior Staff Writer

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 much 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.

For more information on Zika virus check out AHC Media's on-demand webinar: The Zika Virus: Separating Fact from Fiction – A Discussion with Experts. For all the latest AHC Zika coverage, please visit reliasmedia.com/Zika.