Manitoban infected with Zika hurt 'from head to toe' after trip abroad
2 cases of virus confirmed in Manitoba
Krishna Armogan says he is one of the two people at the centre of the first cases of Zika virus infection in the province.
"I was hurting from head to toe," Armogan said, describing his symptoms as flu-like "but a lot worse."
Manitoba health officials confirmed Friday there have been two cases of the virus detected in Manitoba. Both individuals had recently travelled to an area affected by an outbreak, the provincial government said Friday.
Officials did not release any details about the patients or where they had been.
"These two cases are travel-related; they are not locally acquired," Dr. Elise Weiss, of Manitoba Public Health, told CBC News.
"Canada is reporting several cases and they all have been related to Canadians — Manitobans, in our case — who have travelled to areas where Zika is known to be circulating. So that is to be differentiated from, say, some of these countries where they're acquired locally."
Virus contracted in Guyana, Armogan says
Armogan is 45 and has lived in Winnipeg for 36 years but is originally from Guyana. He travelled home to visit his dad at the end of March. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been reports of Zika in Guyana.)
When he returned in early April, Armogan said he knew something was wrong. He says a friend drove him to the hospital, where doctors ran some blood work and other tests over the course of about nine hours.
Physicians at the hospital didn't know what to make of Armogan's test results, he says, so they sent samples of his blood off to a lab in Montreal to be tested.
He landed back in hospital days after the first visit after a rash broke out on his shoulders and arms, he said.
A disease control specialist was consulted, whose best guess was that Armogan had contracted dengue fever. It wasn't until Thursday that Armogan says he learned he was in fact infected with Zika.
"Today has been a good day," he said, adding Friday was his first day back at work since he returned from his trip. "The pain was still there, not as severe. The fever wasn't there anymore, but I'm very tired all the time."
Armogan said he wanted to share his story to encourage people travelling to areas where the virus has been confirmed to get tested after their trip.
"Going into the hospital and getting a blood test and finding out what it is ... it would help our doctors help us better," he said.
'Very low' overall risk in Manitoba
Even though cases like Armogan's have been confirmed, Weiss said the overall risk of Zika virus to people in the province is "very low," as the mosquito species that carries the virus cannot survive Canada's cool weather.
"The mosquitoes we do have are not known to carry the virus that causes Zika," she said.
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Scientists confirm Zika-microcephaly link
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other serious birth defects.
Babies with microcephaly are born with abnormally small heads that can result in developmental problems.
Microcephaly and other fetal malformations that might be associated with Zika infection have been reported in more than 1,000 cases in Brazil, seven in Colombia, eight in French Polynesia and smaller numbers in Martinique, Panama and Cabo Verde, the World Health Organization said last week.
Mosquito-borne Zika virus cases have been reported in 17 countries since 2007 and areas of the Western Pacific, the United Nations public health agency said.
There are no documented cases of Zika infections in Canada or the continental U.S. contracted from local mosquitoes. Local mosquito transmission has been reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. Widespread outbreaks are reported in Brazil and Colombia.
Health authorities urge caution
Health authorities, including Manitoba Health, advise people travelling to areas affected by the current Zika virus outbreak, or areas at risk of an outbreak, to protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing, using insect repellant and making sure windows and doors have screens on them.
As well, pregnant women are advised against travelling to areas with an outbreak or at risk of an outbreak.
Manitoba Health also urges caution as research is underway into the potential of Zika virus being sexually transmitted.
"Women should avoid becoming pregnant during travel to an affected area by the current Zika virus outbreak or an area at risk, and for two months after return from these areas," the department said in a news release.
"It is recommended that men returning from an affected area or an area at risk, who show symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika virus, consider using condoms or not having sex for at least six months after symptoms begin. It is also recommended that even men returning from an affected area or an area at risk who show no symptoms consider using condoms or not having sex for at least eight weeks after returning from an affected area."
With files from The Associated Press and CBC's Erin Brohman