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Ohio Spring Breakers Cautioned About Zika Virus

The Zika virus, spreading in the Caribbean and Latin America, is linked to birth defects and paralysis. (Pixabay)
The Zika virus, spreading in the Caribbean and Latin America, is linked to birth defects and paralysis. (Pixabay)
March 11, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's spring break season in Ohio, and the state's health leaders are advising those with plans to migrate south to take precautions to protect themselves from the Zika virus.

The virus, spreading in the Caribbean and Latin America, is linked to birth defects and paralysis, and now researchers say it might be connected to a deadly type of brain inflammation. Zika is spread through mosquitoes, and Ohio Department of Health medical director Mary DiOrio said Ohioans headed to places with active transmissions of the virus should take precautions, "especially insect repellent, wearing appropriate clothes to protect their skin from exposure.

"We especially want to make sure that people are aware of these areas," she said, "but if they're pregnant that if at all possible they avoid traveling to these areas right now and postponing their trip to another time if they can."

DiOrio cautioned that it's suspected that the virus also can be spread through sexual transmission. According to the World Health Organization, no mosquito-borne Zika virus cases have been reported in the United States, but there are many travel-associated cases including at least five in Ohio.

There is no medicine to specifically treat the Zika virus, but DiOrio noted that hospitalization and death are rare.

"Right now it appears that most people who do get infected with Zika virus, about 80 percent, develop no symptoms whatsoever from the infection," she said. "About 20 percent of individuals will develop symptoms and the symptoms are a fever, a rash, headache, muscle aches, those kind of things."

She said anyone who recently has traveled and develops those symptoms should visit their health-care providers.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH