Louisville physicians sound off on worldwide concern over Zika v - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville physicians sound off on worldwide concern over Zika virus

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world and raising alarm -- but Louisville physicians are urging locals to remain level-headed and to take practical precautions.

"The Zika virus is a virus that's transmitted by mosquitoes, it's primarily being treated in South America, central America and the Caribbean right now," said Norton Healthcare OB/GYN Jennifer Evans.

The virus arrived South America just last year. Now, the virus has spread to 24 countries in Central and South America.

More than 31 U.S. citizens have reported Zika symptoms. All cases were contracted while traveling abroad.

"The most common symptoms are red eyes -- what we call conjunctivitis," said Evans. "You can get a rash, kind of a fine rash, joint aches and usually a low-grade fever."

The symptoms are known to last a week and are not life-threatening. The biggest health threat though, is believed to be for pregnant women.

"As OB/GYN's we get most concerned about when a mother, a pregnant person, gets infected with that virus and then when it's transmitted to her fetus," said Evans.

This transmission is suspected to be the cause of microcephaly, a condition where the brain doesn't develop properly.

"If the brain's not developing normally, then the head doesn't grow. That can result in developmental delays, seizures, vision problems, hearing problems," said Evans.

The Center for Disease Control has issued travel alerts for pregnant women in 24 countries with reported active transmission of the Zika virus. So far, four pregnant women in the U.S. have contracted Zika. Two reside in Illinois, one in Washington D.C. and the other in New York City.

"Anyone thinking about getting pregnant or who is pregnant should avoid travel to those areas unless it's absolutely necessary," recommended Evans.

And if travel is necessary to these areas it's imperative to take precautions.

"It's really important that they try to stay in air conditioned environments, screened-in areas, you can use insect repellent for mosquitoes even if it has DEET in it, and you can spray clothes with it. The big thing is trying to avoid any mosquito bites if someone absolutely has to travel," said Evans.

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