Zika Virus Not Major Threat On Southcoast
The Zika virus has become a major concern due to the impact it can have for pregnant woman and the deformities it can cause to their unborn children.
While the World Health Organization has declared Zika an international public health emergency here on the Southcoast there isn't as great a concern of the disease spreading.
Dr. Robert Caldas, the Chief Medical Officer for Southcoast Health told WBSM's Phil Paleologos that the virus is in the same family as the West Nile Virus, and like the West Nile Virus is only spread through mosquitoes.
However, Caldas says that unlike West Nile it isn't as deadly.
"It's not spread like the flu is, a cough or a cold or infected table tops, it's spread strictly by the mosquito," said Caldas "unlike West Nile it's not a severe disease, West Nile has potential fatalities Zika has not been shown to have fatalities."
Caldas says most people who catch Zika only have symptoms such as fever, red eyes, or joint aches for a few days before the disease is gone.
However, Dr. Caldas says the risk still remains for pregnant women should avoid travel to certain areas, including one travel destination that's very popular with many southcoast residents.
"14 territories in the Americas have been identified, and one of them is Puerto Rico, so alot of people in this area travel there either to see family or for vacation during the winter, I would advise against pregnant woman travelling to Puerto Rico," said Caldas.
Caldas says people travelling to those areas should take normal precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleaves, and staying indoors or in screened in areas.
The Center for Disease Control has information about the Zika virus available on their website.