Now that Zika virus is in Indiana, how likely is it to spread?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2016) — Now that Indiana has logged its first confirmed case of Zika virus, how likely is the virus to start spreading?

FOX59 talked to experts who tell us despite the virus making its way to the state, its spread is highly unlikely.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Tuesday that a person who traveled to Haiti contracted the virus, bringing it back to Indiana. That person, who was not identified, showed signs of mild illness but has now fully recovered.

Indiana University Professor Richard Hardy, who studies the transmission of viruses through mosquitoes, said that because of the nature of the virus and time of year, it likely wouldn’t spread from the infected person.

“The chances of it being transmitted to anyone else are really, really, really small,” Hardy said.

That’s because the person would need to either transmit it by being bit by a mosquito in Indiana, or through sexual contact. Cases of sexually transmitted Zika virus, however, have so far been rare.

What is more likely is that more cases will come to Indiana through travelers to infected countries, particularly as Spring Break approaches and the weather warms up, livening mosquito populations in Indiana.

Even then, though, Hardy said that an epidemic or outbreak would be very unlikely. He pointed to the fact that only humans and monkeys can contract the virus, not other animals, as well as the basic technology that exists in the United States.

“The most simple (factor) is that we have air conditioning and we have mosquito screens on our windows,” Hardy said.

Hardy himself planned to travel to the Caribbean on Spring Break. He and the Health Department are advising anyone who is traveling to an infected country to pay close attention to guidance distributed by the CDC. You can find that guidance, and more about the Zika virus, at the link here.