• By Deborah Balzer

Mayo Clinic Expert on Zika Virus in the U.S.

May 25, 2016

a computer monitor screen of the CDC website with a magnifying glass, illustrating the words "Zika virus"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its reporting of U.S. pregnant women affected by Zika virus to gain a bigger picture of the impact of the infection during pregnancy. In the U.S., 279 women are infected. This figure includes 122 women in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The World Health Organization says 58 countries have been affected by the mosquito-borne outbreak.

Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "This is a major concern of worldwide global public health importance. We may have an entire generation of children that have an increased amount of microcephaly." Microcephaly is a birth defect that results in a baby with a smaller-than-normal head size than that of other children of the same age and sex.

Watch Dr. Tosh discuss Zika:

 

Zika in the U.S

No locally transmitted cases of Zika virus have been identified in the U.S. states, meaning all cases have been acquired while traveling to Zika-endemic areas.

Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "There are a lot of concerns as summer approaches. We are certainly seeing Zika in people who have traveled to these endemic areas, but the concern is, especially in the southern parts of the United States, are we going to see Zika virus acquired locally, and, with that, comes the risk of birth defects, specifically microcephaly."

Testing for Zika virus

“There are some tests that are available. Some of those tests are looking for the virus itself, and other tests are looking at the body’s immune response." Dr. Tosh stresses, "They should be done in very specific situations. Not everyone who is concerned about it necessarily needs to be tested. And, it is related to where you went, how long ago, what are the symptoms, is there a pregnancy. There are tests available, but they need to be used in the appropriate clinical fashion.”

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