Locals take precautions as Zika cases spread across U.S.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Zika virus is raising concern across the country, including the Capital Region, but doctors and lawmakers aren’t the only ones talking about it.

Even though there haven’t been any mosquitoes identified in the United States with the Zika virus, people are still concerned. Eighty degrees is the perfect temperature for mosquitoes, but they can start laying eggs and even hatch when it’s only 50 degrees.

Brian Whipple owns a local franchise of Mosquito Authority, a company that sprays for mosquitoes. He typically doesn’t receive calls from people until spring, but recently, he has been fielding calls from people asking what the virus is and if they should be scared.

“People don’t really understand what it is,” he said. “They don’t understand how it’s contracted; where it’s coming from.”

Zika is transmitted by a specific type of mosquito, and most people who become infected don’t show any symptoms.

“They show signs of fatigue, rash, inflammation, upset stomach,” Whipple said. “They don’t even know that they have it.”

For others, Zika can be dangerous and even deadly.

“The most severe problems is in pregnant women,” Whipple said. “Actually can cause severe birth defects or death in infants.”

Before the Zika scare, Paul Antonovich and his wife were planning a trip.

“We plan a trip every year with my wife and her family,” he said. “We’ve gone to Cancun a couple times in the past, but we decided to do something different and go to Costa Rica.”

But now, they’re not going.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of about two dozen countries on the travel notice list. They are mostly in the Caribbean, Central America and South America where there have been Zika outbreaks.

“The CDC listed is as one of the countries that’s effected by this, and we had to cancel the trip,” Antonovich said.

Antonovich said he’s not concerned about getting the virus himself. He’s concerned because his wife is trying to get pregnant.

“Based on the fact that we’re trying to have a baby pretty soon here,” he said. “It would be pretty devastating to have a baby with those kind of birth defects.”

In some Latin American countries, health officials have said the virus causes a condition called microcephaly where babies infected are born with abnormally small heads. The CDC, however, has not said there’s a definitive link between the virus and the birth defect.

But Antonovich and his wife aren’t taking any chances.

“So the more that people travel, the more that it’s going to be coming in; once people come into the U.S., and they have it,” Whipple said. “Men can transfer it to women through sexual intercourse.”

The CDC predicts the number of Zika cases in the U.S. will increase and could even spread as more travelers re-enter the country.

Mosquito Authority has set up its own website for people to keep up-to-date with the latest on the Zika virus.

Visit the CDC, HERE, to learn more.

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