- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The first case of the Zika virus in Connecticut has been confirmed by state health officials, the Department of Public Health said Friday.

The unidentified patient is in his or her 60s and had traveled to a Zika-infected area. The person showed signs of the illness upon returning home in early March and the mosquito-borne viral infection was detected by a state laboratory, the health agency said.

The patient’s symptoms included a skin rash, conjunctivitis, fatigue, chills, headache and muscle aches. The department said the person has been seen by a physician and is recovering.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy directed the agency in January to begin testing for the Zika virus.

Public Health Commissioner Raul Pino urged residents to avoid traveling to affected countries. If they must go, he urged them to be vigilant.

The virus has become a concern because of mounting evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women to a rare birth defect called microcephaly, in which a newborn’s head is smaller than normal and the brain may not have developed properly.

This week, health officials said nearly 260 lab-confirmed Zika infections have been reported in the 50 states in the last year - a count that includes 18 pregnant women. Officials blame mosquito transmission for nearly all of the 283 cases reported in Puerto Rico and two other U.S. territories. The kind of mosquito that spreads Zika is found on the southern United States, so experts think it’s likely the pests will spread the virus there, too.

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