SITKA – In the spirit of patient safety and complete transparency, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) would like to inform the community that a non-Alaskan resident who recently traveled to Central America recently visited SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital (MEH) experiencing symptoms associated with the Zika virus. The patient was diagnosed as having the virus, was treated and has since left Sitka.

It is important to note that the Zika virus is a disease transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Those infected can only transmit it to others through sexual activity or intravenous drug use. A diagnosis of Zika is based on a combination recent travel history, symptoms, and test results.

The patient has returned home, and there is no chance the virus can affect the Sitka community. MEH staff have thoroughly disinfected the very limited area of the hospital in which the patient was treated and have taken all infection control precautions necessary to secure patient safety and environment of care for all staff and patients.

SEARHC followed all procedures for such an event, and there is no risk to those working or receiving care at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. SEARHC is committed to providing the best health care possible for our communities, and patient safety is of utmost importance.

Alaska mosquitoes are not capable of transmitting Zika virus, so there is no risk of local mosquito-borne transmission. More information about the Zika virus is available here.