BY: PAMELA STERN
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are: a mild fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. You should seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
According to international health officials, it is suspected that there is a link between a major Zika outbreak in Brazil and increased reports of a serious birth defect in babies born to infected mothers. The condition is microcephaly, which is characterized by babies with abnormally small heads and often brains that have not developed properly.
New York Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to expand free Zika testing for all pregnant women who have traveled to areas where the infection is ongoing regardless if they exhibit symptoms or not.
“These actions will help us continue to ensure the safety of New Yorkers,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are in constant communication with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are taking proactive steps to raise public awareness, address any potential cases of Zika, and protect the public health. Anyone who visited countries impacted by this virus should consult with their health care professionals, and remain alert for possible symptoms.” DOH has received numerous inquiries from pregnant women and their healthcare providers and has determined that the expansion of testing for the virus, will provide pregnant women and their doctors, the necessary information to make the best healthcare decisions. Women who are pregnant, and have traveled to a country where Zika is ongoing and would like to know more about testing can call the DOH at 1-888- 364-4723.
“The bottom line for people around the U.S. is, if your pregnant don’t go to a place that has a Zika outbreak,” says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “That is important until we learn more.” According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website, there are more than two dozen countries and territories with active Zika virus transmissions. This list includes three United States territories: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.