The Zika virus is becoming more of an international concern as more than a million cases have been diagnosed in Brazil over the past few months.
So far, the virus has been reported in at least 24 countries, many of them in Latin America.
In the United States, at least a dozen cases have been reported in multiple states, including California, Arkansas and Virginia. All of the people suffering from the virus had traveled to countries with cases already reported.
Brazilian-Americans, like Marco Rabello, are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat of the virus in their homeland. Rabello has lived in Kansas City for the last 14 years and now owns Taste of Brazil in River Market. He said he has been talking about the virus with his brother, who lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“My family and friends keep me up to date on the situation,” he explained.
Rabello said Sao Paulo has mostly been spared from the Zika virus, but it has been tough seeing the pain people are going through in Brazi.
“It's sad because usually when you talk about Brazil, you talk about food, soccer, Carnival,” he said.
Symptoms of the Zika virus include rash, slight fever, achy joints and watery eyes.
Nancy Tausz of the Johnson County Health Department said people in the metro area should not be concerned.
“Most people that would get this disease, if they were bitten by this mosquito, wouldn't even know they had the disease," she said.
As of Thursday evening, no cases of the Zika virus had been reported in the metro area.
“There's no imminent threat here in Kansas City right now,” she said. “However, it's an emerging disease."
Pregnant women in particular are being warned about the virus, especially if they are traveling to one of the countries where the virus has been reported.
Images of babies with severe birth defects from the Zika virus, like small skulls, have led to the virus getting worldwide attention.
Next week, the World Health Organization will hold a meeting in Switzerland to decide if the group should declare a world health emergency.
Tom Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com.