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Medical chief says most Michiganders don't have to worry about Zika

May 10, 2016

If you live in Michigan, you probably don't have to worry about the Zika virus. 

The virus usually causes fever, rash, or joint pain, and is rarely bad enough to send someone to the hospital or prove fatal. Pregnant women have the most to worry about: if a mother gets infected, the fetus could become malformed. 

Zika gained national attention about a year ago when there was a confirmed case in Brazil. Then, in February of this year, the World Health Organization declared the virus a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." 

But for Michigan, there's not much to be concerned about. 

Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, talked with Michigan Radio's Stateside.

"We are low risk here in Michigan for this particular mosquito transmission of either Zika, dengue, or chikungunya because the mosquito, that aedes mosquito, is not prevalent in this state," she said.

This is really an issue for child-bearing aged women -- a woman of child-bearing age who is pregnant or planning on being pregnant -- who is traveling or living in an affected country at this time."

Wells said there have been three reported cases in Michigan -- all were travel-related; none were pregnant women. 

However, Wells added that men who get infected can transmit Zika sexually, and advises them to take precautions if traveling. 

For those considering a trip to South or Central American countries anytime soon, Wells suggests first checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov/zika) for the latest travel advisories. 

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