More than 31 cases of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus have been reported in the U.S., but the chance of contracting the illness in the Hudson Valley is unlikely, health officials said.
“If we see any, it will be an imported case from people who traveled to countries in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean,” said Stuart Feinstein, M.D., head of Health Quest Medical Practice’s Division of Infectious Diseases. Health Quest has several Hudson Valley locations.
Seven people in New York have tested positive for the virus after having traveled to infected areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 24 countries in Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Samoa and Cape Verde where the virus is active.
The Zika virus is similar to yellow fever, West Nile, chikungunya and dengue viruses, Feinstein said, however, there is no vaccination or medication.
The virus is transmitted from a mosquito bite and cannot be spread by human-to-human contact, Feinstein said. Both the yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) and Asian tiger (Aedes albopictus) mosquitos transmit the virus, he said. The yellow fever mosquito has been found in Key West Florida and Hawaii and the Asian tiger mosquito is present primarily in southern states, Feinstein said.
None of the U.S. cases were transmitted by mosquitos in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to the flu with patients experiencing fever, joint pain, skin rash or conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Many, however, do not experience any symptoms at all. Investigations are ongoing as to whether Zika can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks nerves, Feinstein said. The incubation period for the Zika virus is usually three to 12 days.
Symptoms typically resolve within a week, Feinstein said.
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