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Jacob FlanaganJan 28, 2016, 8:27 pm

Growing concerns over Zika virus’ appearance in New York State

Five New Yorkers are reported to have the virus, which can cause birth defects in children

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Health officials say five cases of the Zika virus have been diagnosed in New York State. The disease, which the WHO says ‘is now spreading explosively’ throughout the Americas, brings significant concerns over birth defects in children.

All five of the people diagnosed with the virus in New York are confirmed to have contracted it after traveling abroad.

In places where the virus has been found, health officials say there has been a ‘steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome,’ a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

The Zika virus started in Brazil in early 2015 and has spread to several countries in North and South America. As of right now, there are more than 50 cases in the United States and its territories, and estimates show it spreading to potentially 4 million people in the Americas over the next year.

Officials say tracking the disease is made more difficult because the mosquitoes who spread the virus can be found everywhere in the Americas and a person bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito may only experience relatively mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all.

The Centers for Disease Control are urging people to avoid 24 countries and territories mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially if you are pregnant.

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