Doctors warn of Zika risks as summer approaches

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a new warning tonight about the Zika virus. Experts say you don't have to travel to come in contact to the virus which is linked to birth defects.

Doctors are spreading information about how people can protect themselves, especially planning to get pregnant.

Experts say the type of mosquito that carries the virus has been spotted in Illinois, but the size of the population is unclear.

Warm weather brings moms and kids out to the park in droves, but for expectant mothers like Ashley Markgraf the threat of the Zika virus brings a little bit of stress to an otherwise carefree day.

"I've been monitoring my pregnancy as much as I can and everything looks great, so I just hope it's not as big of a deal as they say it's going to be," says expectant mother Ashley Markgraf.

Doctors have now confirmed the Zika virus is responsible for certain birth defects, deformities as a result of the virus being transferred from a mom to the fetus. Doctors at Loyola Medical Center have yet to see a case of the virus in Chicago, but they are prepared. Dr. Thaddeus waters is a maternal fetal specialist.

"Zika's been around for a long time but it's only been recently sort of to explode, both in terms of a mass clinical problem," says Dr. Thaddeus Waters of Loyola University Medical Center.

Until now the virus was a threat mostly to those in South America and parts of Mexico. But the Centers for Disease Control now says mosquitos carrying Zika could make their way to this country and a number of states including Illinois. All the more reason to try to protect yourself from mosquitos.

"Wearing repellent, just like you would for any other situation, but also don't allow standing water on your property," George Balis of Clarke Mosquito.

"If you take the proper precautions and wear bug spray and stay out of humid areas, I think it would probably be a safe bet," says Markgraf.

Experts say the virus is unusual because humans can become carriers: if a mosquito with Zika bites a person and infects them, an uninfected mosquito could bite that same person, pick up the virus, and carry it on to someone else.
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