2 Illinois Residents test positive for Zika Virus

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ILLINOIS – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is alerting the public of the potential of contracting Zika virus while traveling abroad after two residents tested positive for the virus.

Zika virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites, similar to West Nile virus and dengue fever. This illness is typically a mild and severe disease requiring hospitalization. Health officials say, additionally, there is a possible link between Zika virus infections in pregnant women and subsequence birth defects.

The most common symptoms of Zika include: fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms can last from several days to weeks.

Two pregnant Illinois residents, who recently traveled to countries where Zika virus is found, have tested positive for the virus. They are currently having their health and pregnancies monitored by physicians.

IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. says there is virtually no risk to Illinois residents from the women, as the virus is only transferrable by the bite of an infected mosquito. He does, however, still think residents should use caution when traveling abroad.

“Since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories,” Shah says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain where Zika virus transmission is going.

These countries include: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The CDC recommends pregnant women in any trimester consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing until more is known about the virus and areas affected. Those who must travel that are pregnant, or attempting to become pregnant, should consult their doctor or other health care provider for steps on avoiding mosquito bites and strictly follow their advice.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.

Further information about Zika virus can be found on the CDC website.

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