Health officials: Illinois at low risk for Zika virus transmission

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CHICAGO — The Zika virus may be spreading throughout South America and parts of the U.S., but health officials say the risk of contracting the disease in Illinois is very low.

Illinois public health officials say they are closely monitoring the outbreak, but right now, they say unless people travel to South America, the risk of transmission is low.

“It would be too glib and wrong to say ‘you shouldn’t be worried’ because that ignores the fact that people are worried,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “We understand that people have seen scary stories. But while we have a lot of compassion and empathy for those families, we want folks to know that what may be going on in South America is not necessarily something that will arrive here in Illinois.

The Zika virus has been linked to severe birth defects, including microcephaly, since it surfaced in Brazil about a year ago. But new research on the illness emerges constantly, and with it more questions than answers on its full impact. There is no vaccine.

–Chicago Tribune reporting

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