"This is not unexpected," says Frank Esper, MD, infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, after learning of the first case of Zika virus in Ohio, found in a Cleveland woman who traveled to Haiti. "We know people are going to come back and they're going to have the Zika virus."
Zika is not fatal and, for most people who contract the mosquito-borne virus, symptoms mimic the flu: fever, ache, and perhaps red eye or rash, The virus then leaves the system in five days. Zika in pregnant women, however, has been linked to microcephaly, or small brains, in their babies, which could lead to serious developmental problems.
"What we need to worry about mainly is the pregnant moms and their unborn child," says Dr. Esper. "That's the population who's at risk for any problems from the Zika virus."
Aside from a few cases of sexual transmission, Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes unique to tropical areas so travelers from Central and South America will be the main source of the virus in the north.
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika. The Cleveland woman has not be hospitalized.
Protection for Travelers in South and Central America
* Use insect repellant
* Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts
* Avoid going outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent
* Stay at places with screens on windows and doors and central air conditioning
Source: University Hospitals Case Medical Center