Health department says Zika virus not likely to spread to Wisconsin

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- More than two dozen people in eleven states have tested positive for the Zika virus, including in Minnesota and Illinois.

The Centers for Disease Control says the number of people returning to the U.S. with Zika is growing.

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department says the last report was 31 cases.

“All of those people have traveled to countries where there is Zika and it's clear they've brought it back with them,” said Director Lieske Giese.

That comes as the World Health Organization says the virus is "spreading explosively" in Central America.

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil.

Currently, Mayo Clinic Health System says there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

Dr. Jennifer Bantz (OB-GYN) said, “Women who are pregnant and have been infected with the Zika virus, in all trimesters, there have been some babies born with small brains and some babies who have died from this.”

That's lead the CDC to warn pregnant women against traveling to countries and parts of the Caribbean where mosquitoes are spreading the virus.

“If you're pregnant we recommend not traveling to Central America,” said Bantz. “Countries like Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. If you're thinking of becoming pregnant perhaps change your plans.”

Zika is mild in most people. It may cause headaches, a rash, joint pain or red eyes but about 80% of those who get the virus won't have symptoms.

Giese says that makes it difficult to tell whether a pregnant woman has been infected.

“They don't know exactly what that connection is, but it does appear that women infected with the Zika virus have a much higher likelihood of having pregnancy abnormalities and birth outcomes,” Giese explained.

Despite cases being reported in Minnesota and Illinois, Bantz says the likelihood it will spread to Wisconsin is slim to none.

“Really there is no risk and will be no risk in the Eau Claire area,” said Bantz.

The health department says if you can’t change travel plans make sure use insect repellents when abroad.

Giese says there are repellents with deet that are considered safe for pregnant women and also recommends wearing protective clothing.