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Zika Virus Found In Monroe County

(WXXI News & AP) Monroe County health officials are confirming for WXXI News they did recently learn of a person who tested positive for the Zika Virus.  That’s a typically mild disease that has been linked to birth defects in some countries in the Southern Hemisphere recently.

Health Department spokesperson John Ricci would only describe the person as an adult who was not pregnant, and says the person had tested positive for the virus after developing flu-like symptoms following a trip to a country in a tropical area. He says that person is doing fine now.

Ricci emphasized the virus is not contagious from human to human, and is spread through mosquitos.

The state has confirmed a total of 7 cases of Zika virus in New York. The Monroe County case, 3 in New York City, and one each in Orange, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Officials say all of them had traveled to areas outside of the U.S. where the Zika virus is present.

Declaring that the Zika virus is ``spreading explosively,'' the World Health Organization announced it will hold an emergency meeting of independent experts Monday to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency. 

At a special meeting Thursday in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said the virus _ which has been linked to birth defects and neurological problems _ was becoming much more of a threat. One WHO scientist said the Americas could see up to 4 million cases of Zika in the next year. 

Chan said although there was no definitive proof that the Zika virus was responsible for a spike in the number of babies being born with abnormally small heads in Brazil, ``the level of alarm is extremely high.'' She also noted a possible relationship between Zika infections and Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause

Earlier this month, the CDC said pregnant women should consider postponing trips to more than a dozen countries with Zika and advised women trying to get pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant to speak to their doctor before traveling and to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

A U.S. health official says he doubts the United States is vulnerable to a widespread outbreak of the Zika virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes the Zika virus can be kept at bay with ``mosquito vector control.'' Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, appeared on ``CBS This Morning.'' He said administration officials do not believe there are major ways of spreading the virus ``other than by mosquito bites.'' 

Earlier this week, Dr. John Treanor, Chief of Infectious Diseases at UR Medicine, told WXXI News that “unfortunately right now there is no treatment or prevention for Zika except for measures to reduce the presence of mosquitos and reduce the risk of mosquito bites.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.