Expert Says UNR Student With Zika Doesn't Pose Outbreak Risk

Dec 19, 2016

A student at the University of Nevada, Reno is the only blood-borne Zika case in Nevada. Our reporter Yama Rongomas has more.

Kaitlin Comfort, a Secondary Education major, went to Nicaragua in May to work as an English teacher. While there she contracted the virus.

“I worked in a very poor community that was not fumigated by the city and so they had a lot more mosquitoes than other places in Nicaragua and probably got bit there,” Comfort says.

Comfort noticed a rash and soreness in her eyes but she wasn't aware of how sick she was at first. She eventually went to the public hospital where doctors informed her that she had contracted Zika.  

Since returning to the states Comfort has been working with the Food and Drug Administration, which asked her to participate in a study to see how long the virus will stay in her blood.

“They said that at eight weeks it should be out or earlier which is why they are surprised that it's still in my blood so I really have no idea how long”, Comfort says.

It’s now been 5 months and the infection is still in her system. During this time Comfort has had to explain to her friends that the only way to transmit the virus is through sexual activity which she has chosen to abstain from.

Jim Wilson is the director of the Nevada State Infectious Disease Forecast Station. He says that there have been good signs because Comfort didn’t suffer from any severe side effects and recovered from all symptoms some time ago.

“The virus won't come back once her body figures out how to clear it,” he says. “The belief is that she's done.”

Wilson says Comfort's case is rare and Nevada is at an extremely low risk of having an outbreak.