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Polk Co. Health Educating Travelers on Zika Virus Before Spring Break

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Centers for Disease Control has now confirmed that they are currently working on 84 cases associated with the Zika virus in the United States.

Zika virus spreads through a specific kind of mosquito from South American countries and Mexico. If contracted, it can lead to variety of illnesses including birth defects.

With spring break just a few weeks away, the Polk County Health Department is looking to educate before people leave.

“Diseases in different countries are only a plane ride away,” said Nola Aigner, Polk County Health Department. “It`s really important for people to understand that, we actually do live in a small world.”

The part that has caught the attention of the department is that of the nine states that so far have travelers that have contracted the virus, three of those states border Iowa.

Aigner told Channel 13 that they are allocating extra resources to educate as many travelers as possible before they leave.

They work on basic education about the Zika virus. Items like spotting the symptoms and simple prevention techniques.

“It can be small things like a rash or a fever,” said Aigner. “One-in-five people who have the virus don’t have symptoms. It’s so important you go to your health care provider if you traveled to those countries recently.”

Aigner says they see clients everyday who have questions about the Zika virus. For the most part, those clients are familiar with the risks for pregnant women but the biggest area they want to improve on is the role men have in spreading the virus.

“So we have seen, that Zika can be transmitted when you have sex,” said Aigner.” So, you are a male and having sex with a woman, you should use protection. It can be transferred that way, too.”

Polk County recommends if you are traveling to any of the countries affected stop by their office to get a quick tutorial on the Zika virus.  ​

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