Broome County Confirms First Case of Zika Virus
The Broome County Department of Health has announced through a press release the confirmation of the county's first case of the Zika virus. No other details have been shared at this time.
The Zika virus is absolutely terrifying to pregnant women because it has been linked to awful birth defects in babies with mothers who were infected with the virus while they were pregnant. While there are several different birth defects associated with the Zika virus, the most serious is something called "microcephaly. Babies who are born with microcephaly have heads smaller than normal and their brain is also less developed.
Broome County Health officials say that the mosquito which spreads the virus isn't in Broome County even though there's been a confirmed case. How is this possible? Well, the Zika virus is spread by a certain type of mosquito found in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The mosquito bites someone who's infected and then bites someone else who isn't infected. Another way the virus can spread to a pregnant mother is if they have sex with an unprotected man who carries the virus.
How do you know if you've got the Zika virus? Chances are, you don't. The CDC says most people who carry the Zika virus don't even know they have it because they don't display any symptoms. Those who do experience symptoms complain of fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The good news is that people who are infected rarely need hospitalization, but again, the bad news is that pregnant women who become infected can spread the virus to their unborn child and serious birth defects can occur. The virus can live in semen and actually lives there longer than it does in blood.
How can you protect yourself or your partner from becoming infected with the Zika virus? There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. Instead, the CDC suggests that if you're going to be outside, you should wear long sleeves and pants, try to stay inside in places that have air conditioning and screens, apply sunscreen and then insect repellent on top of it when you're outside and remember that mosquitoes love standing water, so make sure you don't have any breeding grounds around your home. See some of the CDC's other suggestions for prevention here.
If you think you might have the Zika virus, even if it's only a small suspicion, you should immediately reach out to a healthcare provider.