Zika concerns grow in travelers, expectant moms

Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 19:01:17-05

Concerns over the Zika virus grew on Wednesday after more cases were reported in parts of Florida.

Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in four counties where people have become sick with Zika virus.

Previous story: No Zika virus cases in Kansas City as concerns grow

The virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, and can lead to birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected.

Images of babies with shrunken skulls, one of the possible birth defects, have led to Zika virus getting worldwide attention.

Previous story: WHO starts special meeting on Zika virus amid rising concern

More than 20 countries have reported cases of Zika virus, many of them in Latin America.

The outbreak of Zika virus and the threat to pregnant women has led to airlines offering refunds on trips to countries with cases of the virus.

Mark Ebbits of Shelton Travel Service near the Plaza said his office has been responding to several calls about travel concerns.

“We're advising our customers going down to Mexico for spring break,” he explained. “We’re telling them to bring along some extra insect repellant and lather up, especially in the evenings.”

Almost all of the cases in America have dealt with people who have traveled to countries with reported cases.

“It's a scary situation,” said Ebbits. “Your friend could be infected and bring it back to the USA. Through casual contact, things happen.”

Staff at several women’s health centers across the metro area said on Wednesday they had received calls from expectant mothers. Many of the mothers had concerns about the spread of the disease and wanted more information on how to stay safe.

The outbreak of Zika virus is also leading to some area businesses to take precautions.

Kansas City Southern, a railroad company, has routes in Mexico and is at risk of bring mosquitoes back to the US.

In a statement, the company said:

“Officials from Kansas City Southern’s subsidiary railroads in the U.S., Mexico and Panama are aware of the Zika virus situation and are monitoring it.  In Panama, regular fumigation is carried out to suppress mosquitoes.  In the U.S. and Mexico, the company is passing along to its employees, health alert information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so they will be mindful as they travel and take precautions when or where possible.”

Symptoms of Zika virus include rash, fever, and watery eyes.

As of Wednesday, no cases had been reported in the Kansas City area.



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