LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Officials at Lancaster General Health are not trying to alarm folks about the Zika virus.
Dr. Joseph Kontra, chief of infectious diseases, says there are two groups who should give extra attention to Zika:
“Patients who are pregnant and who have traveled to areas where Zika virus is being transmitted,” he said. “This is not transmissible person to person, with the possible exception of sexual exposure.”
Concern seemed to spike when the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed two Pennsylvania women tested positive after traveling to countries affected by an ongoing outbreak of the virus.
The virus has been linked to birth defects, but Dr. Kontra said symptoms typically are mild and last only a week.
“Eighty percent of patients are completely without symptoms,” he told ABC 27 News. “Those who do get sick tend to have a very mild illness which consists of some fever, rash, redness of the eyes, conjunctivitis, and muscle and joint aches. The problem comes when you are pregnant and get the infection while you are pregnant, particularly in the first or second trimester.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that if someone is concerned about the virus, they should avoiding traveling to areas like Central and South America.
“Unless you are exposed in those countries and you are either pregnant or becoming pregnant the risk is nearly zero,” Dr. Kontra said.
If you do travel to a country where Zika is present, it’s also suggested you wear bug spray with DEET and long clothing.