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Time To Worry About Zika Virus?

Published
A Massachusetts resident has reportedly returned from a trip to South America infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But is there a risk to Rhode...

A Massachusetts resident has reportedly returned from a trip to South America infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But is there a risk to Rhode Island?

Zika has sickened more than a million Brazilians since May, and may be the cause – although it’s not certain yet – of a serious birth defect. But Hasbro children’s hospital infectious disease specialist Michael Smit,MD says it’s too early to panic about that kind of outbreak in North America.

“Well, there’s no cause for undue alarm at this point in time," says Smit. "I would say that following the CDC’s advice for pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant to avoid traveling to the affected areas.”

The mosquito that carries Zika virus is found in New England. But there’s only been one reported case in our region, and that was in a returning traveler. Smit says even if the virus spreads here, there are ways to reduce contact with mosquitoes when they’re most active: by using repellant and staying indoors with the air conditioning on. 

More resources on Zika virus:

  • Reference: CDC information on Zika virus - affected areas, prevention, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment, transmission, etc. 
  • Guidelines: Interim guidance from the CDC for pregnant women
  • Read: National Institutes of Health director's blog post on the emergence of Zika virus

Areas affected currently by Zika virus
Areas affected currently by Zika virus