Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting two pregnant Illinois residents who recently traveled to countries where Zika virus is found have tested positive for the virus.
This occurred on the same day the Florida Department of Health reported three travel associated Zika cases.
This has prompted an alert for the public concerning the potential of contracting Zika virus while traveling abroad.
“There is virtually no risk to Illinois residents since you cannot contract Zika virus from another person, but only through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “But since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women, women trying to become pregnant, or women who are thinking about becoming pregnant and must travel to one of these areas should talk with their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms can last from several days to weeks. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.