Illinois health care providers prep for Zika Virus

The World Health Organization is warning of a potential pandemic of the Zika Virus, and that has local doctors in Illinois preparing for the possibility of an outbreak.

There’s concern it could make its way to mosquitoes in the United States by spring.

It’s a virus that Dr. Lukasz Dabrowski says targets the most vulnerable people.

"It’s not just that we’re worried about newborns," said Dabrowski. "We’re more about pregnant moms getting it, because right now the link and association is with neurological brain development leading to the small, microcephalic head."

Three cases of the Zika Virus have already been diagnosed in Illinois. But it’s not a new disease, and the symptoms are all too familiar.

"A majority of the time, people have flu-like symptoms with body aches, maybe a little bit of pink eye, but that’s the extent of it," said Dr. Dabrowski.

Health officials in Texas reported Tuesday a case in which the virus spread sexually, but Jackson County Environmental Health Director Bart Hagston says it’s more commonly spread by mosquitoes.

"Zika Virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito," said Hagston. "The bad news is that the species of mosquito that carries Zika Virus is present in southern Illinois and the surrounding areas."

"You have to be in the right environment at the right time to be infected," said Dabrowski.

While it’s too cold for mosquitoes to spread the virus to our area now, the World Health Organization is warning of a global pandemic possibly coming in the summer.

There is no cure for the Zika virus.

Like the flu, if a patient comes in with symptoms, they will be closely monitored until the disease simply runs its course.

The three patients in Illinois who have been diagnosed with Zika all caught the virus while in South America.

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