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Sunday, February 7, 2016

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

Q. What is the Zika Virus?
A. The Zika virus is an illness spread by the yellow fever mosquito. The illness has been linked to babies born with tiny heads, and to autoimmune diseases. The yellow fever mosquito is found in the United States in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in Hawaii. Other southern U.S. areas such as Texas also have two species of Aedes mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the Zika virus.

Q. What are the symptoms of Zika Virus?
A.The symptoms include fever, joint pain, red eyes, and rash. These symptoms can be mistaken for the flu. The most disturbing recent effects are occurring in Brazil where the virus is being linked to a rare birth defect, microcephaly, in which babies are born with an abnormally small head. In 2014, fewer than 150 cases of microcephaly were reported. That number has now risen to more than 4,000 cases in Brazil.

Q. Is the Zika Virus in the U.S.?
A. Yes. Although the virus has affected up to 30 people in the U.S., they do not appear to have been acquired within the states. Of the cases that have occurred in the U.S. before 2014, at least 8 people have been U.S. travelers, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC). The CDC reports that further testing is ongoing.

Q. How concerned should Americans be of the Zika Virus?
A. According to the CDC, there is no concern about the virus being acquired within the states, and no concern for U.S. travelers in general. The concern seems to be focused on U.S. travelers to other affected countries who are bringing the virus back.

Q. Into what states has the Zika Virus now spread?
A. The Zika Virus has now been confirmed in Hawaii, Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, New York, Virginia, Texas, and the District of Columbia. Those affected are travelers returning from affected countries.

Q. Is there a cure for the Zika Virus?
A. No, there is no cure for the Zika Virus, but The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to develop a vaccine. It does not appear the vaccine will be available for another year.

For more information on the Zika Virus, visit
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