Zika Virus Raises Concerns

Health officials believe a rare, sometimes paralyzing syndrome may be linked to the Zika virus.

Concern, but not fear, is the feeling from most Brazilian Americans in New England about the virus, which officials confirmed Thursday a Massachusetts man had contrcted.

"I'm going, probably next month," said Sandra Coelho of the Brazilian Community Center in Framingham. "I'm not scared."

Spread of the virus is now at an outbreak level in Brazil.

At the Brazilian American Center, many members want to know more about the risk.

"I had a call the other day of a mother that was is planning on sending her two small kids to Brazil for vacation," said Coelho. "she was concerned if it was dangerous for her to go."

The vice chair of obstetrics at Massachusetts General Hospital says for most, the virus has mild or no symptoms at all - but for pregnant women, it can be devastating.

"There is the possibility that the virus spread to the baby. And if it's transmitted to the baby, there's the possibility that the baby gets something called microcephalic, which is a birth defect which makes the brain unusually small," said Dr. Laura Riley.

There are no reliable tests for the virus, so the focus has been on prevention. Pregnant women are advised to use caution when traveling to affected countries.

Glivania de Oliveira, the consul general of Brazil in Boston says there is now a large coordinated effort in Brazil to cut down on the mosquitoes that spread the virus.

Airlines are accommodating some passengers planning to travel to areas affected by the Zika virus.

The following areas are covered by the CDC travel alert:

  •  Central and South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela.
  •  Caribbean: Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Cape Verde, off the coast of western Africa, and Samoa in the South Pacific.
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