This post was brought to you by Scarsdale Medical Group.
There is so much information and, naturally, confusion about the Zika virus, especially now with spring break and summer vacations on the horizon. We are thrilled to work with Dr. David Goldberg of Scarsdale Medical Group, who answered all of your questions regarding Zika and what we need to know.
Has the Zika virus been found in New York?
Residents of New York have come back from other countries with Zika virus infection, but the disease has not been transmitted within New York State due to the absence of the appropriate mosquitoes. Only certain types of mosquitoes can transmit Zika virus, and they are not found in the United States, except in some of the southernmost states (Texas and Florida).
Is there a chance it could make its way to Westchester this summer? How can I protect myself if mosquitoes here are found to have it?
Yes, we expect people from Westchester to come back from other countries with Zika virus infection, but the only people at risk may be their sexual partners.
To protect yourself from Zika virus if you travel to a country where Zika is being transmitted, you should apply insect repellent and keep yourself covered as far as reasonably possible.
Should pregnant women in Westchester protect themselves from mosquitoes, just in case, this summer? If so, what kinds of repellents are best and not dangerous during pregnancy? Do natural repellents work at all?
There is no risk of Zika virus transmission from the mosquitoes that we have in Westchester.
Insect repellents containing DEET have been the most thoroughly tested and are thought to be safe during pregnancy. “Natural” repellents also have some efficacy, but there is no reason to think they’re safer than DEET.
If I traveled to one of the areas where it’s been found, how will I know if me or my child has contracted it?
The symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pains and pink eye. Many other illnesses can cause the same symptoms. The diagnosis is made by performing a blood test on a person with compatible symptoms. In Westchester, the blood test is only performed at Westchester Medical Center and only if the person is referred by the person’s physician.
Many people infected with Zika do not develop any symptoms. However, unless a person is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, or the sexual partner of someone who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, there is no need to know if a person has been infected with Zika virus, since there is no treatment and no medical consequences.
If I am a pregnant woman, where in the U.S. should I avoid going? Beyond the affected countries in South America like Brazil, the Caribbean and Central America, what countries or islands should pregnant women (and women trying to conceive) avoid?
There are no travel restrictions for pregnant woman within the United States. Besides South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, Zika virus infections are also being reported from Samoa and Cape Verde. Pregnant women should avoid these countries as well.
If a woman is planning to conceive a baby in the next three to 12 months, must she avoid areas where the Zika virus has been found?
She should, until more is known.
If no one is pregnant, is it absolutely safe for my family to travel to an affected country or are there other risks?
There is no significant risk for a person unless pregnant or trying to become pregnant. For non-pregnant individuals, Zika virus causes a mild flu-like illness which resolves in a few days.
There was a story circulating that Zika may be sexually transmitted and that pregnant women should abstain. Is there any fact to this?
Yes, there is evidence that Zika virus may be sexually transmitted. If a woman’s partner has traveled to a country where Zika is transmitted, she and her partner should abstain for the duration of her pregnancy.
Is there a Zika risk in Europe?
When is a vaccine expected to come out?
No one knows.
Do you have more questions regarding Zika? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to get them answered by Dr. Goldberg.
Dr. Goldberg, pictured above, is board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He developed and manages a Traveler’s Health website (www.mdtravelhealth.com) that is updated regularly and provides a wealth of information for travel overseas. He has a broad knowledge base within and outside the field of medicine, is extremely thorough in the care of his patients, and doesn’t hesitate to provide for all their needs.
The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of the Scarsdale Medical Group for more than 50 years. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.