CHOP Doc on Zika: “Most People in the U.S. Have Little Reason to Worry” 

When it comes to the Zika virus — the mosquito-borne virus that’s been affecting much of Central America and South America in the past few months and could possibly be linked to microcephaly, a rare birth defect — there is SO much talk floating around the Internet that it can be hard to weed through it all: Should you lock yourself in your house until future notice, or be completely unfazed? The Internet has a way of confusing people. But yesterday, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia published a blog post titled “The Zika Virus: What CHOP Experts Want You to Know,” and, while many questions concerning the virus can’t be answered, it does help to clear a few things up.

The post, which is part of a larger Q&A with Dr. Susan Coffin, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at CHOP, highlights a slew of common questions associated with the virus, like, for one, what the heck is it? To answer that question: It’s a virus that for most comes with no symptoms, but for some can come with flu-like symptoms, muscle aches and a rash. As Dr. Coffin explains in the post, it typically resolves itself in about a week.

Other questions the post touches on: What is microcephaly and how is it connected to the Zika virus? And what precautions should pregnant women take? But the most noteworthy part of the post, in my opinion, is what Dr. Coffin says about how worried people in the United States should be right now: As she says, “While it’s important for the public and the healthcare community to take the Zika virus seriously, it’s also important to realize that the risk of Zika virus infection remains very low unless one is traveling to an affected area. Most people in the U.S. have little reason to worry.” And obviously, this could change — but for now, it seems Dr. Coffin’s thoughts are that, as long as you aren’t traveling to an affected area, you can stop freaking out.

But don’t get it twisted: This isn’t to say we shouldn’t still be cautious. The CDC recommends that, due to the possible link between Zika and microcephaly, pregnant women should avoid traveling to countries currently affected and use condoms when getting busy with anyone who has recently traveled to an affected country, since the virus can be sexually transmitted. You can see a full map of the affected areas here and you can read CHOP’s full blog post here.

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