Zika virus (Zika) is spread to people through bites from infected mosquitos in regions of the world where Zika is found. Outbreaks have occurred in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and more recently, the Americas (including parts of South and Central America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico). Since the type of mosquitoes that are able to carry and spread the virus can be found throughout many parts of the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to occur. Zika is not currently circulating in the United States; however, cases of Zika have been reported in travelers returning from those affected regions. Mosquitoes that spread Zika can also spread Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.
Information and guidance regarding Zika virus is being updated frequently. Please go visit the Centers for Disease Control for the most current recommendations.
What are the symptoms of Zika Virus?
Common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes (conjunctivitis). Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
What is the treatment for Zika Virus?
Zika is preventable, but not treatable. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Treatment is generally rest, controlling nausea and pain, and staying hydrated by drinking fluids.
What can you do to prevent Zika virus infection?
- Avoid mosquito bites
- Consider limiting travel to affected areas if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
Mosquitos that spread Zika bite mostly during the day. To protect yourself from mosquito bites in areas with Zika transmission:
- Use insect repellents. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or permethrin-treated clothing
- If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying, turning over, covering, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, or trash containers.
For pregnant women:
There have been reports of congenital microcephaly in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. The full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with Zika virus infections during pregnancy is unknown and requires further investigation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and are planning to travel to an affected region, you should talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread Zika bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime; therefore, it is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day. When used as directed on the product label, insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant women.
Because Zika is capable of being transmitted sexually, partners of women who are pregnant and who reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission should consistently and correctly use condoms during sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy.
If you are sick with Zika Virus:
Prevent others from getting sick, protect yourself from mosquito bites during the first week of illness. During at least the first week of infection, Zika virus may be found in your blood. If a mosquito bites you, it can become infected and spread the virus to other people through bites.
Who may be tested for Zika Virus?
Pregnant women who have travelled in an area with Zika transmission should talk with their healthcare provider about testing, whether or not they have had symptoms of infection. Other individuals who have symptoms of Zika should contact their healthcare provider and may be offered testing.