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Zika Virus Prompts Warning from KCHD For Spring Break Travelers


The Zika virus has prompted a warning from the Kent County Health Department.  It’s urging caution for West Michigan residents traveling abroad for spring break. 

As the spring break season begins, the Kent County Health Department is issuing a warning for those West Michigan travelers who may seek a warmer climate in areas impacted by the Zika virus.

“And we certainly want people to be able to enjoy that, but with the Zika virus being prevalent where a lot of those folks are going, we’re urging an abundance of caution.

That’s Steve Kelso, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Kent County Health Department.  He says the health department is urging travelers to be careful while heading to places like Mexico or South America where the Zika virus has been found.  Caution is encouraged for all travelers, but the biggest warning is to pregnant women.

“Really, the at-risk group that we see is women who are pregnant in any trimester or who are planning to get pregnant and that is because Zika is being linked to birth defects.”

Per the health department’s news release, the Zika virus is spread primarily by the bite of an infected mosquito.  It has not been found in mosquitos in the United States.  The most common symptoms of Zika may include a fever, rash or joint pain.

“About 80 percent of people who get the Zika virus, will never know they have the Zika virus.  But still, we’re urging people who are going into these areas where the Zika virus is actively being transmitted  to avoid mosquito bites every opportunity they can. Now this would include wearing mosquito repellant with DEET.”

Kelso says The Centers for Disease Control continues to  investigate the Zika virus.  There currently is no vaccination for it.  You can find more information about the Zika virus by gong to “accesskent.com.”

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.