First case of Zika virus in Palm Beach County

Posted at 2:19 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 14:40:16-04

The state announced Wednesday that Palm Beach County has its first travel-related case of Zika virus. The person had traveled to Suriname.

Palm Beach County has been added to the Declaration of Public Health Emergency.  

A total of 700 people have been tested for Zika by the state's public health laboratory. 33 were Palm Beach County residents.

RELATED: More Zika coverage

There are now 76 cases of Zika in 15 Florida counties. All of the cases are travel-related.  Four of the cases involve pregnant women.

According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days.

The CDC recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds.

The state recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika-affected areas.

The number for the Zika virus information hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

Local hospital staff have been preparing for potential cases.Dr. Brandt Delhamer works in the emergency room at Wellington Regional Medical Center. He says because symptoms can develop anywhere from one week after infection up to 8 weeks later, doctors and nurses need to be asking the right questions. 

"We ask patients if they’ve traveled to endemic areas within 8 weeks," said Dr. Delhamer. "There is a dormancy period and during that time they may not feel any symptoms at all, then overtime the first symptom to develop may be rash, may be fever."

But a rash caused by Zika doesn't look any certain way. It can show up anywhere on the body or not show up at all. 

"Because we do now have a case confirmed in Palm Beach County we’ve made educational efforts both amongst the departments, doctors, physicians, nurses to make sure that everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms," added Dr. Delhamer. 

The state health department says health care providers cannot test for Zika, but because of the serious deformities Zika can cause to an unborn baby, pregnant women are the first being screened. 

Doctors are taking blood samples from any patient whose traveled to Zika-impacted areas and is showing symptoms. Those samples are being tested at health department laboratories. 

"Heightened awareness is your best defense, any patient who arrives in the emergency department with any symptoms suggestive of Zika is going to be screened," said Dr. Delhamer.

Breakdown of cases by county in Florida:

  • Alachua 4
  • Brevard 2
  • Broward 11
  • Clay 1
  • Collier 1
  • Hillsborough 3
  • Lee 3
  • Miami-Dade 32
  • Orange 5
  • Osceola 4
  • Palm Beach 1
  • Polk 2
  • Santa Rosa 1
  • Seminole 1
  • St. Johns 1

Signs and symptoms of Zika

  • Fever may include: acute onset of low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (reddening of eye),
  • Body aches, headache, eye pain, and vomiting.
  • Treatment is symptomatic since there is no specific treatment against the virus.
  • Illness typically resolves within a week