Health organizations are carefully monitoring the spread of the Zika virus after a large outbreak in May of last year in Brazil.
The virus is typically spread by mosquito but there have been cases of infection through blood transfusion and sexual contact. Beth Conover is a genetic counselor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe Meyer Institute and says the CDC is keeping close tabs on the virus as it continues to spread.
The outbreak started in Brazil almost a year ago and is spread by mosquitos, similar to the West Nile virus. Conover says that isn’t a concern in Nebraska right now due to the cold weather but come spring that will change. She says health organizations are now focusing prevention of mosquito borne infections. Conover says there have also been a couple of cases where the virus was spread through sexual contact.
The the Zika virus is associated with microcephaly, babies born with incomplete brain development and smaller heads. The outbreak is spreading through South American and the Caribbean so pregnant women are asked to avoid those areas. Just this week four counties in Florida have been declared a health emergency due to the virus. There have been cases in the U-S but most of those infected traveled to areas where the virus is spreading. Conover in general the virus causes flu-like symptoms or a rash and is typically not life threatening. She says unfortunately there is no vaccine or cure for the Zika virus.