Two Illinois pregnant women test positive for Zika virus

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said pregnant women, especially in the first trimester, are also advised to defer travel to Brazil until the actual cause of the surfacing of microcephaly linked to the Zika virus in that country was determined.

In addition to Brazil, the World Health Organization has found Zika in Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Some symptoms include acute onset of fever, a flat red rash, and joint pain.

A travel alert was issued for people heading to several popular destinations due to the spread of the Zika virus.

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito responsible for spreading dengue, yellow fever, and a whole host of other tropical infectious diseases.

An individual can contract Zika when an infected mosquito bites them. The CDC is investigating a possible link between the two. Officials say the virus is common in regions where mosquitoes are still thriving, including many countries in Central and South America, but IL residents shouldn't be anxious. He does, however, still think residents should use caution when traveling overseas.

A baby recently born in Hawaii was reportedly infected with Zika virus during pregnancy and now has microcephaly.

Zika (ZEE'-ka) is the name of a virus discovered in a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947. But there’s been mounting evidence linking the virus to a surge of a rare birth defect in Brazil.

There is no treatment for the virus and the only way to prevent it is to reduce the risk of mosquito bites when in these geographic areas.

These same mosquitoes also spread dengue virus and chikungunya, so women who test positive with a quick test need further testing to see which virus is causing the symptoms. Since October, Brazil has reported more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly in infants compared to less than 150 in all of 2014.

Riley, an expert in high-risk pregnancies who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said she is writing practice guidelines for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, which will be released in partnership with The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The IDPH recommends anyone who does travel uses an insect repellent, wears long sleeves and trousers, and stays in places with air conditioning or window and door screens. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctors or other healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

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