MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – As the Zika virus continues to spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”
As investigators continue to study how the virus is transmitted, myths surrounding the virus abound.
Dr. Marcelo Laufer, who specializes in pediatric infectious disease at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, has been busy for the past several months dealing with Zika virus related cases.
“We get phone calls, we’ve diagnosed patients, mothers in our offices, at the hospital and at Urgent Care,” said Laufer.
The Zika virus has been a growing concern for many in South Florida, and many of the myths surrounding it have gotten mixed in with the facts.
For example, the symptoms.
“Fever, low or high grade fever, sometimes red eyes, possibly a rash and muscle and joint pains,” said Laufer. “If the patient looks sick, they need to be seen. If they have a mild cold or fever, but otherwise are doing well, use common sense unless there is a pregnant person in the house.”
Maria Mendoza’s daughter Micaela is one of Dr. Laufer’s patients. When Mendoza was three weeks pregnant she was infected with Zika in Venezuela. Micaela was born in Miami seven weeks ago, the scarring on her retina and calcifications on her brain are blamed on Zika.
“What we know when a woman is pregnant and is infected with the Zika virus early in her pregnancy it can have effects on the baby,” said Laufer.
So what effect would the Zika virus have if it was transmitted to a young child?
“Your child might have nothing or they might have a mild disease, red eyes, joint pain,” said Laufer. “A few of them may have a severe disease and be admitted, the majority – just a common virus illness.”
If a child is infected, will it have a long term effect?
“Not for them,” said Laufer. “No chronic infection on babies, no chronic infection on adults, men can carry the infection in their urine for up to three months.”