Nassau County, NY - January 29, 2016 - Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano, Commissioner of Health Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau University Medical Center President/CEO Dr. Vic Politi, infectious disease experts and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Madalyn Farley today cautioned residents of the effects of the Zika virus after a Nassau County resident contracted the virus, issued a health warning for travelers and offered consumer refund assistance to pregnant travelers encountering resistance from airlines and cruise lines.
“Nassau County residents are urged to heed the CDC’s travel alert, warning pregnant women to avoid travel to the 24 countries where the Zika virus is spreading and causing birth defects,” said County Executive Mangano. “While some airlines are refunding pregnant customers, the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs is ready to assist residents who encounter obstacles from cruise lines and other air carriers. To that end, I am introducing legislation requiring carriers to refund pregnant travelers and their travel companions.”
Nassau County has one confirmed case of Zika virus in a resident who traveled to an area outside the U.S. where Zika virus transmission has been documented. The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory for affected countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Samoa and Cape Verde. The infection can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.
Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein stated, “Zika virus symptoms are usually mild but may include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections. Pregnant women and mothers with newborn babies who have visited affected countries should consult with their health care providers.”
Nassau County Health Officials are preparing for additional cases resulting from travelers. At this time there is no risk of acquiring Zika virus in Nassau County. Travelers should visit the CDC Travel website - frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations. Pregnant travelers encountering obstacles from air carriers and cruise lines may seek assistance from the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs by calling (516) 571- 2600.