Digging deeper into the Zika Virus – IllinoisHomePage.net


By Emilee Fannon | efannon@wcia.com

Published 11/23 2016 07:31AM

Updated 11/23 2016 07:31AM

ILLINOIS — You’re not hearing about it as much, but the Zika Virus is still a threat here in Illinois. So what’s being done? Congress approved using grant money to help in the fight and many are asking for more to fund this research.

“I think we’re just seen the beginning of all this and I think we’re going to see a lot more cases before this comes to an end,” said Dr. Donald Graham, Springfield Clinic/St.John’s Hospital Department of Infectious Diseases.

Doctors say the spread of Zika continues. In September Illinois received more than 700 thousand dollars in federal funds to help combat the virus.


“It’s possible that a vaccine maybe developed it may be developed quickly but quickly on the medical terms could be a year to,” said Dr. Ricardo Loret De Mola, SIU Fertility. 

Dr. Loret De Mola is a fertility doctor who reminds couples who are trying to get pregnant about the dangers of traveling to Caribbean or tropical areas.


“You need to be prepared for the possibility that you won’t be able to get pregnant for at least two months for women and that men may need to use protection for up to a year.”


The mosquitoes that carry the virus are not common in Illinois.  The Illinois Department of Public health says there are 85 people infected statewide and Dr. Loret De Mola says the numbers will go up.  “With winter people travel and people don’t tend to travel north they tend to travel south and more vulnerable areas and this is very common.”


Research shows those infected won’t die from the Zika Virus, but your baby might. Thousands of dollars are being spent on tracking birth defects, hiring staff for Zika surveillance and educational materials. “The bigger concern is how long the virus can live in the body and re-transmitted to a baby.”


Infectious disease specialist at St. John’s Hospital says while Zika’s a big concern there still needs to be focus on The West Nile Virus. According IDPH four people have died from West Nile this year. “West Nile tends to be more severe from the patient who contracts illness the adult suffers much more from West Nile then they do from Zika,” said Graham.


Illinois West Nile Virus Program gets about 3.5 million dollars a year. Zika researchers concern is that they are only getting a fraction of the money compared to West Nile.

“We can’t ignore it and developing a vaccine to protect us and our families in the future is critical,” said Senator Dick Durbin.


Public health officials say while their grateful for the money it’s not enough to deal with a potential outbreak.  


“When it comes to a public health concern we know one thing for sure. Ignoring them will cost us dearly.” Senator Durbin says more funding needs to be invested to help protect those who are at risk.


“Now we’ve reached a point where literally thousands of people have become infected and we’re talking about thousands of pregnant women infected and that’s the most dangerous category,” said Durbin. 


Since the funding for Zika was approved in September. Twenty-five more people in the state were infected with the Zika Virus.

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