Alberta tourist diagnosed with rare Zika virus after trip to Thailand
TORONTO – Public health authorities in Alberta say a woman from the province has been diagnosed with a rare virus after she returned from a trip to Thailand.
The woman tested positive for Zika virus, making hers the first confirmed infection with this virus in Canada.
The 45-year-old woman reported having sustained numerous bug bites during a trip to Phuket and Bangkok in southern Thailand in January.
She became ill after returning to Canada but recovered after about 2 1/2 weeks.
However, it took considerably longer to figure out that she had been infected with the Zika virus, which was first isolated from an infected monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947.
The health authorities who reported the case said it serves as a reminder to doctors and laboratories that travellers may bring home some rare pathogens that aren’t picked up by regular diagnostic tests.
Human infections with the virus have been reported from parts of Africa and Asia. Like the West Nile or dengue fever viruses, it is transmitted to people by a number of mosquito species. And also like those viruses, Zika is a member of the flavivirus family.
Three days after she returned to Alberta, the woman became feverish, nauseous with vomiting and extremely fatigued. She also reported having blisters in her mouth.
Later she developed a severe backache and a rash on her extremities, including her palms. At that point, she sought medical care in a hospital emergency department, where she was tested for a number of illnesses, including dengue fever, malaria and measles. The tests came back negative.
The woman was finally diagnosed after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control laboratory at Fort Collins, Colo., found antibodies in her blood to Zika virus.
Though she had been travelling with family and they too reported having been bitten, none of them fell ill.
The infection was reported in ProMED, an Internet-based infectious diseases surveillance system.