Valley health official reacts to spread of Zika Virus - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Valley health official reacts to spread of Zika Virus

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With a quick bite, mosquitoes can have you scratching for days.
But the insects are bringing more than just irritation to the southern US, they're spreading the Zika Virus.

"We understand that this is anxiety-provoking for women who are pregnant and their families," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

This week the World Health Organization declared Zika a global public health emergency after it was linked to brain deformities in babies in South America.
Now, after seeing three deaths, researchers believe the virus may also be linked guillain-barre syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can cause paralysis.

"The mosquito isn't in our area so that's a good thing," said Sweeney.

But in the Valley experts say the Risk of Zika is low.

"The Zika virus is transferred by mosquitoes that are not indigenous to the Mahoning valley, actually to Ohio," said Mahoning County Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney.

Sweeney says people do need to be concerned about those around them who have traveled to areas at high risk for Zika, including South America.

"If they come back to the area and they have symptoms of Zika virus, that's where it can spread apparently there are a few cases now where it has been transmitted from not casual contact but through sexual contact," said Sweeney.

Because of those cases, the CDC says men and women who have traveled to high risk areas should abstain from sex.

In Pennsylvania, physicians have already started testing for Zika, with a simple blood test.
In Mahoning County, all doctors have been informed of the procedures for testing Zika.
For now, Sweeney says Ohioans should not worry about Zika, unless cases from human contact spike.

"As it develops and evolves and we learn more about it if there is more human to human that's something that we'll be talking further about," said Sweeney.

And with new research showing the virus is detected in urine, and saliva, the conversations on Zika are just beginning.

"It may be that it's present in saliva. Is it impossible that someone would get infected that way? I don't know," said Frieden.

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