3 pregnant women among 46 Zika cases in Illinois, health officials say

FILE - A female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in Sao Paulo's University in Brazil. (Andre Penner)

The Illinois Dept. of Public Health said Thursday that three pregnant women are among the 46 confirmed Zika virus cases across the state.

Health officials said five other pregnant women in Illinois are awaiting test results from the CDC to determine if they have Zika or Dengue fever.

Zika , which is spread to people through mosquito bites, can cause severe birth defects, including small heads. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

Aside from travelers, health and mosquito experts do not expect to see Zika virus in the Chicago area. The mosquito threat here continues to be West Nile virus.

Dave Zazra, of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, said there are no species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting the Zika virus in Illinois. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries the Zika virus - and climate is a factor.

"We do not have the main mosquito - Aedes Egypti - it does not survive our cold weather, so in that way we're lucky to have cold weather, I suppose," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health.

Another mosquito, Aedes Albopictus, may carry the virus, but is rare in our area. Regardless, health officials said protecting yourself from Zika is the same as West Nile.

"We want people using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves, getting rid of standing water around their apartments. But mostly, we want them to do that because of the West Nile virus," said Dr. Arwady.
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