AL health officials receive two requests for Zika virus tests - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

AL health officials receive two requests for Zika virus tests

Health officials say the Zika virus may cause pregnant women to have major birth complications and defects. (Source: WAFF) Health officials say the Zika virus may cause pregnant women to have major birth complications and defects. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Alabama State health officials confirm they've received two requests to test two different people for the Zika virus.

The CDC reports the disease spreads through mosquitoes and has already hit parts of Central and South America as well as Africa and the Island of Samoa in the South Pacific.

Health officials say the Zika virus may cause pregnant women to have major birth complications and defects.

The CDC recently added the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to its growing list of impacted areas. Mexico, Brazil, and around two dozen others are already on that list.

MORE: What to know about the virus | Research begins into vaccine

"It's if the mosquitoes were to make it in this area that are infected with the virus, that's the key," said Dr. Tim Howard.  

According to Howard, the mosquitoes haven't made it to the Alabama or the rest of the United States. He's telling any pregnant patient he has to avoid Zika virus impacted areas, but has this advice for those staying here at home.

"I tell them go ahead and go business as usual. If they want to get pregnant, then that's a privilege that they have. They should not preclude that based on what we know at this time," said Howard.  

On Wednesday, state health officials confirmed they've received requests to test two Alabamians for the disease. Both cases are being evaluated and health officials confirm both people traveled to active virus transmission areas. Dr. Howard said anyone concerned doesn't need to panic.

"Much like we've dealt with the West Nile virus, much like we've dealt with so many other things that come up,” said Howard. “You just have to be reasonable with it.”

Several airline companies are now offering refunds for those impacted by the virus.

Alabama State Health Department leaders also sent us the following information on the Zika virus:

The ADPH is currently receiving and evaluating requests for testing from medical providers. No testing results are available at this time. The testing requests follow the release of notification to medical providers in Alabama about Zika viral infections in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.  The department emphasizes that at this point all exposures are occurring outside of Alabama, and the Continental United States.

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease (or Zika) are fever, maculopapular rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare. Zika virus is not a new virus. There was a major outbreak in 2007 in Southeast Asia, but sporadic cases occurred prior to that outbreak.

If you have a history of travel to an area where there is ongoing transmission within the previous 2 weeks or are pregnant and have traveled to the area since becoming pregnant, you should seek medical advice from your provider. Provided is a link detailing
the areas of concern.

MORE info from the CDC

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