Zika Virus case confirmed in Champaign County
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On Friday, Sept. 2, Champaign County confirmed its first case of a Zika virus infection. According to reports from The News Gazette, the case was at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, but public health officials could not confirm rumors that the patient is a female U of I student who is currently being treated at UI McKinley Health Center.
Officials believe that the patient did not contract the virus locally and was infected after visiting a Zika-affected area.
The Zika virus is mostly found in tropical areas, such as the Caribbean, and in areas of Latin America; until recently, the Zika virus was unheard of in North America. Even in tropical areas, cases of Zika have been fairly rare. The virus has gained much attention in recent months due to its sudden and widespread increase of cases worldwide.
The infection can be fatal and cause adverse health effects on newborns. Many individuals who contract the Zika virus show no symptoms. If symptoms do arise, they are often mild and last less than a week.
While the virus can be easily treated with common over-the-counter medicines, it is difficult to diagnose and can only be found by running blood tests.
According the Center for Disease Control, no vaccine for Zika exists. They encourage people to take preventative measures, including using insect repellent and keeping skin covered.
Although public health officials believe there is no threat to the immediate public, they are taking action to scan the local area for Zika-infected mosquitoes and want to ensure that no other individuals have been exposed to the Zika virus.
With a Zika virus case so close to Springfield, some students are worried.
Corban Rowland, a sophomore at UIS, believes we should be concerned. “Enough widespread of this disease could do some serious damage. It could cause a dramatic decrease in population.”
Madi Shane, a junior at UIS and a Champaign-native, also believes it puts many students at risk. “I think it does put us at a potential risk being so close to the U of I. A lot of students here either know people at the U of I or don’t live far from the area, so the potential for is spreading closer to us or even at our school is something to worry about.”
Others, however, do not feel there is a need to worry.
Josh Alaniz, a junior at UIS believes there is no reason to panic. “I don’t think it will spread. It is only one case and it was caught pretty quickly. The patient didn’t contract the virus locally and is being treated.” Alaniz adds, “Hopefully the disease doesn’t spread, because it could be really dangerous if it does.”