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Intersection: Zika Virus Q&A

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Zika has been confirmed in Osceola County.

Zika has now reached Central Florida. Cases of the mosquito-borne virus have surfaced in Osceola County, joining six other Florida counties.

Zika sparked a public health emergency and it’s been linked to a serious birth defect. So what should you do to protect yourself? What do you want to know about Zika?

90.7’s health reporter Abe Aboraya, Orange County Director of Health Services Dr. Christopher Hunter and Arnold Palmer Hospital’s Dr. Federico Laham answered listeners’ questions on the Zika virus.

Caller: My question is regarding toddlers, young children. What are the possible consequences for them and what symptoms should we look out for?

Dr. Federico Laham: Zika virus fortunately causes a very mild illness. I should really highlight that one out of five people develop symptoms. These symptoms consist of fever, rash, [joint pain] and conjunctivitis, or red, bloodshot eyes. Right now we consider if you have two of the symptoms, consider this condition. There’s nothing really specific for toddlers.

Caller: My wife is eight months pregnant and I saw a mosquito in our room and I was kinda freaking out, because it’s already a state of emergency put out for the state of Florida. So I’m wondering, is it just when the baby is very young in its age, not developed fully, where that virus could affect it? Or could it be any time? When are pregnant women most in danger?

Dr. Christopher Hunter: Two things I would say to alleviate your concern. First, so far here in Orange County, we have zero even travel-associated cases of Zika. So we have no reason to suspect mosquitoes are carrying the illness. More importantly, at eight months pregnant, you’re probably well beyond the point where an infection could cause a real serious malformation, particularly such as microcephaly. Microcephaly likely occurs from insults in the womb that happen fairly early.

Caller: Some of the things my wife and I have read online is that the Zika link to birth defects is inconclusive. But we’ve also read that in Brazil they introduced a certain kind of vaccination for children and that may be linked to that deformation as well.

Dr. Federico Laham: No, this is not related to any kind of vaccine. We know that this virus carries many similarities to other viruses like the dengue virus or chikungunya virus, or yellow fever. These are viruses that are able to replicate through mosquitos or direct interaction of blood, which brings together other concerns, like infections acquired from blood donations or sexual transmission. But this is eminently a mosquito-transmitted infection.

Caller: I recently took out some bags sitting on the floor, they weren’t creating big puddles, but they were creating small puddles. like tiny little ones, and that concerned me. But I do have a retention pond right next to my house because I live at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Dr. Christopher Hunter: I should mention, very frequently we blame our retention ponds and lakes and other bodies of waters for these mosquitoes, and certainly there are types of mosquitoes that breed in that water. But the type of mosquito we’re concerned about here is not coming from retention ponds. It’s much more likely to be coming from small bits of water.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »