Health officials in Iowa confirmed on Friday the state's first case of Zika virus with the infection of an adult female who recently traveled to Central America.

Since May this year, the Zika outbreak has struck many countries in the Caribbean, South and Central Americas.

Officials, however, said that there is no risk for the general public to contract the mosquito-borne virus because the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not established in Iowa.

No locally transmitted cases have yet been identified in the continental U.S. but there have been cases among returning travelers.

"The mosquitoes that are transmitting Zika virus in other areas of the world are not established in Iowa, so the risk to Iowans occurs when they travel to Zika-affected areas," the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a statement [pdf].

IDPH Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk nonetheless urged Iowans who plan to travel to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Travelers who visit areas with Zika transmissions are urged to wear protective clothes such as long pants and long sleeved shirts; use EPA- registered mosquito repellents and stay in screened air-conditioned room during peak mosquito times.

With possible link between Zika and birth defects, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised women to postpone their travel to foreign countries where the virus is currently being transmitted. The agency also recommends that if a male sexual partner has gone to areas where there is active Zika virus transmission; couples should abstain from sexual contact or use condoms to avoid pregnancy.

While the link has yet to be fully established, Zika virus has been blamed for the surge in a serious birth defect known as microcephaly in babies whose mothers were infected with Zika while pregnant.

Microcephaly is marked by abnormal smallness of the head associated with incomplete brain development. Health experts also investigate a possible link between Zika and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurological condition that causes paralysis.

To date, no vaccine is available to help prevent infection from Zika virus and the best means to avoid contracting the virus is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. People who were exposed to the virus do not often exhibit symptoms.

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