INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – The World Health Organization and the CDC are warning the public that Zika virus is spreading explosively and that as many as 4 million people could be affected worldwide by the end of the year, including residents in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health says they are prepared for the day Zika virus makes its way into the state.
“We currently have no documented cases of Zika virus in Indiana but I do expect to see some cases in our state from traveler’s returning from impacted countries,” says Jennifer Brown of the Indiana State Department of Health.
The state health department is already monitoring for mosquito associated infections in Indiana residents. The department is looking for the infections that may be travel associated infections like Zika or viruses that are already present at home like West Nile virus. If a doctor says they have a confirmed diagnosis of Zika virus, the health department will do a public health investigation to find the source. At least 31 people are diagnosed with the virus in the United States and that includes pregnant women as close at Illinois.
“If the circumstances indicated that we would need to ramp up that surveillance we could do that very quickly because we are already doing very similar work with West Nile virus,” says Brown.
Zika virus spreads to people through mosquito bites, but it is not deadly. Symptoms, however, are usually very mild or sometimes do not show up at all. The impact on unborn children can be severe. There is a high degree of suspicion of a connection between the virus and microcephaly, a disorder in which the brain and skull do not develop as well and as a result are too small.
“We absolutely want to stay on top of any emerging diseases that could potentially make their way into central Indiana so we try to be vigilant and up to date on the info that the CDC is putting out and taking extra precautions when they are here so that Marion County residents stay safe,” says Matt Sinsko of Marion County Health Department Mosquito Control.
The CDC has issued a travel alert for 24 countries where the virus transmission is ongoing.