The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Saturday confirmed that a Columbian businessman in Johannesburg had Zika virus infection.
“The NICD can confirm that indeed the test confirmed the diagnosis of the Zika virus infection in the Columbian businessman visiting Johannesburg. The man experienced mild illness and has made a full recovery,” NICD deputy director Professor Lucille Blumberg said.
On Friday night, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said a Columbian businessman visiting Johannesburg had been diagnosed with the Zika virus infection by a private Johannesburg pathology laboratory, and a confirmatory test was being carried out by the NICD.
The businessman presented with fever and a rash about four days after arrival in South Africa but was now fully recovered. The infection was acquired in Columbia prior to his visit to Johannesburg for business. Columbia was currently experiencing a large outbreak of the Zika virus.
“The confirmation of this particular case poses no risk to the South African population as the virus is not transmitted from human to human but through the Aedes aegypti mosquito and/or possibly from mother to the foetus in pregnant women. However, a case of sexual transmission was recently reported in the US but is still regarded to be very rare,” Motsoaledi said.
The virus was present in the blood of a patient for a very short time, typically less than seven days, and therefore posed no danger. A person carrying the virus in the blood would have to be bitten by a correct sub-type of an Aedes aegypti mosquito within this period for the virus to be transmitted to the next person through a bite by the same mosquito.
The Aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus in South America also transmits dengue fever and yellow fever, but these viruses were not found in South Africa, indicating that the local Aedes mosquito did not contribute to the spread of the Zika virus.
Given the frequency of travel between South Africa and a number of countries currently experiencing outbreaks of the Zika virus, it was likely that other sporadic imported cases would be seen in South Africa in travellers, as had been the experience in a number of countries, Motsoaledi said.