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Zika Virus Advisories Issued in Appalachian States

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West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina have issued advisories for theZikavirus, urging caution, particularly for pregnant women traveling to areas where the disease is circulating.

According to the Centers for Diease Control and Prevention, 35 cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the continental United States, only two of which were in Appalachia. However, Zika virus is possibly linked to birth defects in babies born to mothers who contracted the disease while pregnant. Therefore, the CDC has urged caution for pregnant women from any state traveling to regions (such as Brazil and Central America) where the disease is known to originate.

Zika is primarily contracted through mosquito bites – pregnant women can pass the virus on to their fetus; it also can be transmitted from blood transfusions or through sexual contact.

There is no vaccine for Zika virus. However, 80 percent of those who contract the virus don't show symptoms, according to the Health Advisory from West Virginia’s Bureau for Public Health. Those with symptoms may experience fever, joint pain and a rash. Hospitalization and death due to Zika are rare.

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Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.

Copyright 2016 West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kara Leigh Lofton is the Appalachia Health News Coordinator at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Previously Kara was a freelance reporter for WMRA, an affiliate of NPR serving the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville in Virginia. There she produced 70 radio reports in her first year of reporting, most often on health or environmental topics. One of her reports, “Trauma Workers Find Solace in a Pause That Honors Life After a Death,” circulated nationally after proving to be an all-time favorite among WMRA’s audience.