Doctor: Zika not ArkLaTex's main viral threat

Doctor: Zika not ArkLaTex's main viral threat

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The number of Zika virus cases continues to rise across the United States.

The CDC says there are now at least 32 cases across a dozen states, including Texas and Arkansas. There also are major worries about the dangers pregnant women and their babies face.

But a doctor says Zika is not the biggest viral threat the ArkLaTex faces.

The blood sucking culprit and carrier of the Zika virus has caused quite a stir.

"The virus we're most likely to be infected with in Louisiana if we get a mosquito bite is West Nile," Dr. Joseph Bocchini said.

Zika, another mosquito-borne virus, is barreling through South and Central America.

Here in Shreveport, Bocchini says, the Zika virus isn't a huge concern. "It's really West Nile that were more concerned about because it's been in this state for many years."

The Zika virus only poses a threat to pregnant women or those who could become pregnant, he says. It moves through a person's body quickly.

"For a normal healthy adult it's a very mild illness," said Bocchini.

While the virus doesn't linger, at this time it's thought be tied to birth defects like Microcephaly, a condition that causes newborns to be born with a smaller head and severe disability.

For now, pregnant women are being advised to avoid travel to the Caribbeans, Mexico and  Brazil.

"Staying out of this area is key now," Bocchini said. "I think for women who have traveled to those areas who are pregnant, they need to talk to obstetricians."

There is no treatment for the Zika virus, and it doesn't always show symptoms. So it all comes down to limiting exposure to the insect, Bocchini said.

"The same precautions that we take to prevent West Nile infection, reducing our exposure to mosquitoes, is what we need to do."

Here are 5 things you can do:

  1. Clear and drain standing water. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.
  2. Wear protective clothing.
  3. Use bug spray.
  4. Stay in air conditioning.
  5. Keep doors and windows without screens closed.

Federal health regulators are working to deter blood donations from travelers who have visited one of the regions where the Zika virus is prevalent.

The Food and Drug Administration says the goal is to protect the U.S. blood supply.

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