The New York State Health Department announced Friday that three people had tested positive for Zika virus, according to a news release. The people infected had recently traveled to places where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Common in Africa and Asia since its first outbreak in Uganda in 1947, the mosquito-borne virus started spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere only last May, the New York Times reported. One of the New York patients has fully recovered and the other two are recovering without any complications. Earlier Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert for eight destinations including Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa. where transmissions of the virus are occurring.
"There is virtually no risk of acquiring Zika virus in New York State at this time as the virus cannot be spread by casual contact with an infected person and mosquitoes are not active in cold winter months," said DOH Commissioner Howard Zucker, according to a news release. "But since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to check all health advisories before traveling and take preventive measures when traveling to affected countries."
Common symptoms associated with the virus include fever, rash, joint pain and bloodshot eyes. The illness is typically mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week, according to the CDC. Scientists have linked the virus to microcephaly, a birth defect, and potentially paralysis, as well. Brazilian disease specialists also said earlier this week that more patients who may have been infected with Zika virus have been diagnosed this year with Guillain-Barré syndrome, the New York Times reported.
“Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing," the CDC said.
While there is no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat it, the CDC advised that travelers can protect themselves from the disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites.