Zika on the move: expert talks transmission, risks

Photo Credit: WIVB

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dr. Bruce Rodgers is the Director of Fetal Testing at Sister’s Hospital. He’s studied fetal diseases for years, but until recently heard little of the Zika Virus.

“It’s somewhat unique in that it’s almost like a fetal pandemic, the disorder really doesn’t harm the mother or the adult person except in rare cases, but it harms the fetus,” he told News 4.

The virus has a potential link to birth defects, like an abnormally small brain and head. Dr. Rodgers said the condition, called Microcephaly, can cause severe developmental delays.

Mothers can pass the virus onto their unborn baby during all trimesters. Brazil has been hit the hardest by this outbreak, so far more than 4,000 babies have been born with birth defects that health officials are linking to the Zika Virus.

Tuesday, the CDC confirmed the first case of the disease being sexually transmitted. Until now, there was not enough evidence to confirm intercourse as a means of transmission.

The virus is not an easy one to study, Dr. Rodgers told News 4.

While pregnant women can go to a hospital to be tested, the rate of transmission is something physicians are still trying to figure out.

Monday, the World Health Organization called the outbreak an international public health emergency.

Costa Rica was recently put on the CDC’s list of affected areas, along with more than a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The virus is carried by a specific type of mosquito and doesn’t have a vaccine. Dr. Rodgers said that could take years.

“It’s possible that this may spread to the United States. We will probably see it first down south,” he said.

In New York, there are at least eight cases. The closest to us is in Monroe County, but none were locally transmitted; the patients were infected while out of the country.

Until we see evidence of local transmission, Dr. Rodgers said all people in Erie County can do is take precaution; that means avoiding endemic areas, and wearing plenty of bug spray while traveling, and as warmer months approach.

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