12 June 2016
The University of Pittsburgh has reported that while working at a lab, a female researcher accidentally infected herself with the Zika virus.
According to the report, it happened on May 23 while she was conducting an experiment with the virus that she mistakenly stuck herself with a needle.
Nine days later, she began experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus, including a fever.
After experiencing the symptoms, they subsided, and she returned to work on Monday. Two days later, the University received confirmation a test was positive for the mosquito-borne illness.
“On advice of the ACHD (Allegheny County Health Department), the researcher is complying with a request to wear long sleeves and pants and wear insect repellent for three weeks from the date of contact,” the University said in a statement.
Pennsylvania’s ACHD later confirmed that the woman no longer has symptoms and is doing well.
In a statement, it called the case unique because the researcher had not traveled to an area where the virus is circulating and she was not infected through sexual transmission.
Nearly all of the infected individuals in the United States were infected while traveling to destinations where the virus is circulating.
There are 11 confirmed cases of the virus among individuals who had not traveled to those places but whose sexual partners had.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said health care workers who handle the virus are encouraged to “take precautions to prevent needle sticks or other exposures.”
“We want to remind residents that, despite this rare incident, there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitoes in Allegheny County,” Dr. Karen Hacker, the health department’s director, said in a statement.