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First Cases Of Zika Virus Detected In Colorado

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - The Zika virus has arrived in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed two Colorado cases of the mosquito-borne virus. Both individuals had traveled to a Zika-affected country and both have recovered.

CDPHE will not provide information about specific cases but says Colorado is likely to have more cases of Zika in the coming year.

The kind of mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus through their bites don't live in Colorado. Health officials say the two cases here were acquired out of the country. But the virus can be spread by an infected man through sexual contact.

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito Zika Virus
(credit: CBS)

"In general, it's going to be a mild self-limiting viral illness like we all get two or the times a year," Dr. Kent Heyborne told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Heyborne is Chief of Obstetrics at Denver Health Medical Center. It is his patients, pregnant women, who have cause for concern about Zika. Heyborne says at least two dozen of them, who have been to Mexico, had their blood tested for the Zika virus.

"We're actually just waiting for those results to start coming back," Heyborne said.

In Brazil, where they are trying to control a major outbreak, the virus in pregnant women has been linked to the serious birth defect microcephaly.

Dr. Kent Heyborne
Dr. Kent Heyborne is interviewed by CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

"It's not absolutely proven, but the circumstantial evidence right now is very strong," said Heyborne.

Zika is also being tied to temporary paralysis. Some scientists say the Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare but severe neurological disorder.

According to Heyborne, "For the next few years, I think this is a problem we'll be contending with."

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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