Zika Virus Hits Illinois

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika Virus a public health emergency.

The virus is usually seen in South and Central America, transmitted through mosquitos. But, travelers have brought the virus to North America, and more locally, Illinois.

“What’s unique about this, is that it had previously not been in this area in the world, it had been predominantly in Africa, so it’s a new virus to South and Central America,” said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, M.D., Medical Director of Infection Control at Edward Hospital.

Though Zika often causes no symptoms, things to look out for are fever, joint pain, red eyes and a rash. For most people, the virus is harmless, but  greater threats are posed for pregnant women because of the threat for birth defects.

“There is now an association with Zika Virus and what they call microcephaly- which is a congenital disorder where the heads are very small,” said Dr. Pinsky.

The CDC is warning women who are thinking about becoming pregnant not to travel to South and Central America. They’re also urging people to protect against mosquito bites.

The American Red Cross is also asking people who have traveled to areas related to the Zika Virus to wait 28 days before donating blood.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.

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