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Keeping Michiganders informed of the Zika virus

Posted: 1:27 PM, Jul 12, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-12 17:27:10Z

With a lot of talk of the Zika virus gong around, the Ingham County Health Department wants to make sure people are well informed.

In a release, the ICHD states that local mosquitoes are not known carriers of the Zika virus. So, Michigan residents are at a low risk for the viral infection, but travelers and pregnant women still need to take precautions.

The Zika virus, for most, is a mild infection that resolves on its own. However, it can cause severe birth defects when pregnant women are infected. The main way people become infected is through carrier mosquitoes, and rarely through sexual contact, the release states.

“There is some misinformation and fear around Zika virus, which we’re trying to combat with an education campaign,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We want the general public to know that a Zika virus outbreak is unlikely to occur in Michigan, and we want travelers and pregnant women to understand how Zika virus could affect them. They are most at risk, but can take steps to protect themselves.”

For pregnant women, ways to protect yourself include avoiding travel to areas like South America and the Caribbean, or if their sexual partners travel to those regions. If your partner does travel to those areas, you should abstain from sex or use condoms to prevent sexual transmission. For women who are trying to become pregnant, they should follow similar precautions, or delay conception.

Anyone who is traveling to areas where the Zika virus is, should use insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites. However, according to the statement, if a traveler is infected, they are unlikely to become seriously ill.

The Zika virus is most concerning for pregnant women, because microcephaly and other fetal brain defects have been linked to the infection during pregnancy.

“Pregnant women should avoid travel to regions with Zika virus,” said Vail. “Just like alcohol or tobacco avoidance, travel to areas with Zika virus should be avoided for a healthy pregnancy.”

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