Pa. investigating 6-8 potential Zika virus cases

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 29, 2016 2:55 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A virus that's spreading throughout south and central America is getting watched by state health officials.

There are no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Pennsylvania, but experts are issuing precautions.

The state Health Department says pregnant women are especially at risk for the Zika virus and should meet with a doctor if they're planning to travel to many south and central American countries.

The virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, and once a prenant woman is infected, it can spread to her fetus.

It can lead to babies with smaller heads, which can cause developmental delays.

But there is also a lot of uncertainty about the Zika virus.

Dr. Ray Pontzer, an infectious disease specialist in Allegheny County, says Africa and Asia have been spared.

"Now in the Western Hemisphere, no one is immune, and that seems to be the primary reason for the big outbreak in south America and now Central America. In the rest of the world, Africa it's been there for many decades."

While there are no confirmed cases of Zika virus in Pennsylvania, the state Health Department says it's investigating 6 to 8 cases.

The World Health Organization says the virus is spreading explosively and as many four million people in the Americas could be infected by the end of the year.

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