Local doctor warns travelers about Zika virus risks

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CLEVELAND, OH -- The Zika virus is on the minds of many these days, especially as more cases pop up in the United States. In the last week alone, several people were diagnosed in both Texas and Florida.

"It's not causing death, it's not causing hospitalization or severe problems, they usually have joint aches, they get a little bit of a rash, sometimes a little bit of pink eye and some fevers. They usually go away in five to seven days like every other virus," explained Dr. Frank Esper, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist for University Hospitals.

He said the virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites, sexual contact and blood transfusions. Once a person is diagnosed, they generally recover quite easily. However, he said they are very concerned about pregnant women who may contract it. Their unborn babies could develop serious and even long term health issues.

"It's unborn children that seem to have problems and the problems that we've identified; mainly in Brazil, have been microcephaly. And microcephaly itself is not the problem, but what it suggests is that the brain is not growing," said Dr. Esper.

He said hospitals around the country are on high alert, and know exactly what symptoms to look for. With that being said though, travelers are asked to be very careful. He said if you're visiting places like Mexico, South America and the Caribbeans, make sure to wear insect repellent.

"We want to make sure that the mosquito population here in the United States is not exposed from these returning travelers, and that's why we're trying to make sure that anyone who goes to the Bahamas, who goes to Central and South America, really works on their mosquito protection," he said.

To learn more about the Zika virus, CLICK HERE: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/