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10 Facts About Zika Virus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The World Health Organization estimates there could be three to four million cases of the Zika virus in the Americas over the next year.

But what exactly is the Zika virus?

Here are 10 things about the virus that you may or may not know:

1: Zika is spread by mosquitoes and in most people causes no more than mild illness. But there's been mounting evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women to a birth defect called microcephaly, in which a newborn's head is unusually small and the brain may not develop properly.

2: According to the CDC, the virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

3: So far, 7 cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in New York state. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill and will develop Zika.

4: There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside and use EPA-registered insect repellents.

5: Zika virus is not new. Outbreaks have previously been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

6: A small number of cases in Brazil and French Polynesia have also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome in adult patients, a rare autoimmune condition which can result in paralysis.

7: Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.

8: The CDC said pregnant women, or those who may become pregnant, should try to avoid travel to 24 countries and territories, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean where Zika virus has been spreading.

9: The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

10: If you have Zika symptoms, the CDC recomments you: Get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain and do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.

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