The state health department is offering free advanced lab testing for symptomatic individuals who have traveled to areas where Zika is ongoing. The testing is to be done by the Wadsworth Center, one of only three state laboratories in the nation with the ability to conduct this kind of advanced testing – and will also include screening and confirmatory tests for antibodies against Zika and other related viruses. Additionally, the state has launched a new information hotline (1-888-364-4723) for New Yorkers to call and learn more about the virus.
New York State has seen nine positive cases of the virus, in which all infected patients were traveling back from the countries where the virus is ongoing. Zika virus cannot be spread through casual person-to-person contact, however, it is likely that there will be many travel-associated cases of people with Zika virus infection living in and seeking care in New York. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection are usually very mild, and many people might not even realize they have been infected and they recover without any issues. However, there have been reports of increased cases of a birth defect known as microcephaly that may be associated with the Zika virus infection among pregnant women. Individuals with symptoms and a history of recent travel to affected countries should contact their healthcare provider to arrange testing. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip, including:
- Dressing in long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active
- Using repellant products registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency
- Not overusing repellant – only applying as much as needed to provide protection
- Reading and following label directions before you use any kind of repellant
See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within two weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.
Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update their travel notices as information becomes available. Travelers should check the CDC travel website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
For more information about the ZIka Virus please visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/