Tigers pitcher Rodriguez says he contracted Zika virus in offseason

- The Zika virus hits home as one of the Boys of Summer says he contracted the dangerous mosquito-borne strain during the offseason.

Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez says he was extremely ill for about two weeks before doctors discovered the source of his sickness. The pitcher describes having body aches and sore joints along with other symptoms.

Rodriguez spent the off-season in his home country of Venezuela. He said it took about two months for him to feel normal again.

The Zika virus causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. Only an estimated 1 in 5 people infected with Zika develop symptoms - fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes - which usually last no more than a week.

But in the last year, infections in pregnant women have been strongly linked to fetal deaths and to potentially devastating birth defects, mostly in Brazil. That's where the 2016 summer Olympics are being held.

Rodriguez said he wouldn't blame athletes for skipping the Olympics, and at least advises them to educate themselves on the virus before heading to the South American country. The games are August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro.  

The virus is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito called Aedes aegypti. It can be found in the southern United States, but there's no evidence that they've been spreading the virus in the U.S. yet. There's a few hundred cases in the U.S. so far, but all the cases in the 50 states have been people who had traveled to outbreak areas, or who had sex with someone who did.

Experts think mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland will probably start spreading the virus in the months ahead, when hot weather hits and mosquito populations boom.

This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 2 for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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