Zika virus cases expected to rise in IL after spring break

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Three cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Illinois, and doctors expect more as people travel to the Caribbean on spring break. (WLS)

Three cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Illinois, and doctors expect more as people travel to the Caribbean on spring break.

Physicians at University of Illinois - Chicago expect the number of Zika cases to increase. They say Chicagoans need to know how the disease is transmitted and take precautions to avoid catching it.

Spring break is approaching, which means warm weather vacations for many Chicagoans. Doctors predict some of the people who go to infected countries in the Caribbean or South America will come back with Zika.

"As people return, and develop symptoms, it has to be awareness of the physicians to test for this," said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, an infectious disease physician.

Dr. Bleasdale says those tests will allow public health departments to track the virus, find out where it came from, and prevent it from spreading.

"It is sexual contact, blood contact or mosquitoes," Dr. Bleasdale said.

Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant need to be the most careful. The Zika virus causes microcephaly, when an infant develops with an abnormally small head.

Puerto Rico just declared a state of emergency after 22 people contracted the virus. Chicagoans with family on the island say that's nerve-wracking.

"I hope sometime in the near future they find a way to get rid of it, because I have a family out there and I'm concerned for them," David Cruz said.

One couple said they're not taking any chances.

"Not until its cleared, not until it's safe to go over there," said Diana Baez.

To be clear, the CDC has only advised women who are pregnant to not travel to Zika-infected countries. Everyone else should talk to their doctor before cancelling their plans.


Related Topics:
healthhealthu.s. & worldzika virusChicago - Near West Side
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