U.S. researcher contracts Zika during experiment: media

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[June 10, 2016]    (Reuters) - A United States laboratory researcher was back at work after contracting the Zika virus by pricking herself with a needle during an experiment last month, broadcaster ABC News said on Thursday.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of those infected have no symptoms.

The unidentified researcher at the University of Pittsburgh pricked herself on May 23 and showed symptoms on June 1, returning to work five days later when she no longer had a fever, ABC News said, citing a statement from the school.

School officials were not immediately available for comment.

The incident was the fourth confirmed case of the Zika virus in Allegheny County, its health department said, without giving details of the accident.

"Despite this rare incident, there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitos in Allegheny County," department director Karen Hacker said in a statement.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.

The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.

To reduce the chance of virus transmission, the Pittsburgh researcher is using insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites, besides wearing garments with long sleeves and trousers, ABC News added.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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