West Des Moines Hosting Zika Virus Panel

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Over the next few months, the topic of the Zika Virus will become more prevalent as Americans travel to Brazil for the Olympics.

Before athletes and spectators head out, getting quality information on the virus is important and the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce wants to help.

Wednesday morning, the chamber will gather experts to help separate fact from fiction regarding the spread of this disease and the likelihood of impacting us here in Iowa.

“We are always looking for panels that are interesting to our members and the public,” said Dave Schwartz, West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. “With summer travel coming up, we know this will be on everyone’s radar.  We want to separate fact from fiction.”

That starts with how you can get it.

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected type of mosquito that is commonly found in Caribbean and South American countries. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus.

“It’s very important that people know what the risk is and where the risk isn’t,” said Rick Kozin,Director of the  Polk County Health Department. “There is lots of information.”

The virus can also be transmitted sexually. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Another topic the panel will focus on Wednesday morning is how to identify the symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. Many people might not realize they have been infected.

“It potentially impacts people’s travel decisions. We want to make sure people have the most current information, so they can me the best decisions for themselves and their families,” said Kozin.

Maybe the biggest clarification they can give Wednesday is where you can contract the virus.

“It’s not necessarily from traveling to the Caribbean or traveling to South America. We need to pay attention, because there may be a comparable risk to traveling to some of the southern states in the United States,” said Kozin.

The panel is being held at 7:30 a.m. at Noah's in West Des Moines, 1805 90th Street.

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