The Zika virus has made headlines across the world and has recently found its way to the Hudson Valley. There are five important things every Hudson Valley resident should know about the disease.

There have been no cases in the U.S. that have resulted from a mosquito bite
The Zika virus has been spreading throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. All of the patients infected so far in our country have been the result of being bitten while traveling abroad. Dr. Stuart Feinstein, head of Health Quest Medical Practice’s Division of Infectious Diseases, says that there have been no reported cases of anyone contracting the disease through human to human contact.

For most people, the Zika virus is not very dangerous
Feinstein says symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to the flu with patients experiencing fever, joint pain, skin rash or conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Many, however, do not experience any symptoms at all.

Pregnant woman are at the highest risk
Researchers are studying a link between Zika and Microcephaly, a neurological disorder where a baby is born with an abnormally small head that can cause severe developmental delays and even death. For this reason, pregnant women are advised not to travel to countries that are currently experiencing an outbreak.

There is no vaccine or cure yet
Currently, the only protection against the Zika virus is to avoid mosquito bites in areas that have reported outbreaks. Kelcey Noble, a pharmacist with Health Quest, says that the CDC has not yet produced a vaccine against Zika. If you must travel to an infected area, mosquito repellant, long sleeves and mosquito netting is your only defense.

The Zika virus has the potential to spread into the United States
With Spring approaching, there is a potential for mosquitoes to begin carrying the disease to the United States. Noble says that there is no need to panic, but initiating mosquito control efforts in your neighborhood now is a good way to prepare for the worst. Eliminating standing water and other areas where mosquitoes breed should be a top priority.

In this interview, pharmacist Kelcey Noble explains more about how the Zika virus may affect the Hudson Valley.