1st confirmed case of Zika virus in Ontario, province says

Ontario has confirmed its first case of the Zika virus, provincial health officials say.

Province found positive test results for the virus in someone who travelled to South America

Health officials say the risk of the Zika virus to Ontarians remains "very low" as mosquitos known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and unsuited to the country's climate. (US Centers for Disease Control)

Ontario's first case of the Zika virus has been confirmed by the province's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

In a statement, the province's chief medical officer of health said Friday that Public Health Ontario received positive test results for the virus in an individual who had travelled to Colombia. The ministry did not confirm whether the person affected is a man or a woman, but did say that the patient is not pregnant.

"From the beginning of the outbreak in Central and South America, we have taken steps to ensure our health system and our partners are prepared should a returning traveller be suspected of having the virus," the statement reads.

The ministry says anyone who has travelled to countries affected by the virus should speak with their health-care provider, who can advise them on the need for testing.

The province says the risk to Ontarians remains "very low" as mosquitos known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and not suited to this country's climate.

"Ensuring that Ontarians are fully informed about emerging and infectious diseases such as Zika virus is a priority," the statement said.

"The ministry will continue to update Ontarians and health care providers on the status of Zika virus as updates are received from the Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization and U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention."

Explosion of infections

There has been an explosion of Zika infections in South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean since the first cases began showing up in Brazil last May.

 A small number of cases have previously been reported in Canada — in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec — in travellers who have returned home infected.

 Most people who contract the infection have no symptoms, but some experience fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes.

However, the virus has been potentially linked in Brazil to more than 4,400 cases of abnormally small heads (microcephaly) in infants born to women who may have been infected while pregnant, as well as cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition that can cause muscle weakness or even partial paralysis.

With files from The Canadian Press

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