Researchers at the University of Missouri are serving as a Zika resource for the state.

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo -Photo courtesy of University of Missouri

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo -Photo courtesy of University of Missouri

There are only four reported cases of the virus not related to travel in the continental U.S. – all in one neighborhood in Miami, Florida.  But the mosquito which carries the disease could reach other parts of the country, including Missouri.

Dr. Christelle Ilboudo with the MU School of Medicine says the insect, known as the Aedes mosquito, can be found in the southern part of the state.  “Just based on the pattern and the temperature that the mosquito needs, the pattern that the mosquito needs, this is a mosquito that’s been found in the state of Missouri in the past.  So it is a mosquito that’s around here.”

Ilboudo thinks the virus is unlikely to spread around the country because the U.S. has better public health controls than Brazil, where the outbreak started last year.  “Old tires is an example that some of the people in Brazil were giving where you just have enough water standing there that the mosquitos can go in and reproduce, and continue to spread infections.” The insects need shallow, calm water to multiply and carry the virus.

Ilboudo notes people who contract Zika typically don’t even know they have the virus.  She said “4-out-of-5 people have no symptoms, so people do not even know that they’ve been infected by (the) Zika virus.  And out of those that are infected, we really get more concerned about pregnant women or people who are trying to get pregnant, because that’s where we see the most long term damage.”

The main concern with Zika is its link to birth defects.  The disease can cause Microcephaly in pregnant women, which can prevent a baby’s brain and head from developing properly.

As part of its function as a resource for Zika, MU Health Care is offering informational links:

http://[email protected]