NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Concerns over the recent growth in confirmed cases of the Zika virus has prompted local and government officials to take precautionary measures for those at risk of contracting the foreign mosquito-borne illness.
Health officials said the number of U.S. residents diagnosed with Zika infections in the past year has grown to 31, but said all of them are believed to have caught the infection while traveling abroad. As of Thursday evening, there were seven reported cases of the Zika virus in New York state, with three of those cases coming from the New York City area.
Pregnant women or women who are planning to become pregnant are also at a higher risk, due to mounting evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women to a birth defect called microcephaly, in which a newborn’s head is unusually small and the brain may not develop properly.
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez sat down to discuss some of your questions and concerns surrounding the illness on our CBS New York Facebook page Thursday evening.
Gomez told CBS2’s Dick Brennan that he received several questions about whether the virus is contagious.
“All the scientific evidence points to the fact that it is not contagious person-to-person,” Gomez said. “If you’ve got Zika, I can’t catch it from you. It requires a bite of an infected mosquito.”
Brennan also noted that people may have booked flights to the countries – largely in Latin America and the Caribbean – that have been affected by the virus. He asked Gomez whether those travelers should cancel their trips.
“I would say no – unless you’re a woman who’s pregnant or planning on getting pregnant. Those are the people who are at risk for this. Most people who get infected never even develop any symptoms, and if you do develop any symptoms, it’s very mild – a flulike illness, aches and pains, a fever, maybe some bloodshot eyes; pink eye,” Gomez said. “Otherwise, that’s OK.”
Gomez was also asked how long women should wait to try to get pregnant after they visit areas affected by the Zika virus.
“It looks like the incubation period is less than two weeks from the virus. Your body probably clears it, even if you get infected, a week, 10 days, 12 days at most – so that is a safe period of time,” Gomez said. “After that, if you haven’t got any symptoms, it’s OK.”
Click on the video above to see some of the most common questions people have about the illness, or on the video below to view the entire live chat.