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Health & Science

Northeast Ohio Prepares for Zika

Photo of a Zika-carrying mosquitoThe mosquito that carries Zika isn't often found in Northeast Ohio, but local health officials are preparing.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

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Four cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Ohio, including two here in Northeast Ohio. The cases are all in travelers returning to the state from South America and the Caribbean where the mosquito-borne disease is spreading rapidly. Though the risk of contracting Zika isn’t high in Northeast Ohio, area hospitals are preparing to detect and treat the disease.

Zika, which is widely believed to cause serious birth-defects, isn’t highly contagious and doesn’t require quarantine like the potentially deadly Ebola virus that made its way to Northeast Ohio in 2014. But the chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s infectious disease department, Dr. Steven Gordon, says they’re closely monitoring the latest Zika data.

“Right now the focus is really on education and identifying potential people who may have been at risk in terms of traveling in a Zika area who may or may not have been pregnant at the time.”

Gordon says the best way to prevent Zika locally is through mosquito control efforts now used to keep diseases like West Nile virus in check.