- Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
- The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific.
[Source: World Health Organization]
What is Zika?
The Zika virus is primarily a mosquito-transmitted infection, but it can also be passed from person-to-person via sexual contact or from mother to child during pregnancy or birth. First discovered in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947, the virus is relatively common in Africa and Asia. Last May an outbreak occurred in Brazil, and now the virus is making its way throughout the Western Hemisphere.
What does it do?
For most people, Zika does not cause any symptoms or permanent damage. About one in five people experience a brief, mild flu-like illness that lasts up to a week.
In pregnant women, the virus has been linked to microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain characterized by an abnormally small head. Another population of concern is individuals who develop temporary paralysis—called Guillain-Barré syndrome—after exposure to the virus.
Signs and Symptoms
- Mild fever
- Skin rashes
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Malaise (general feeling of being ill)
People generally recover well at home and are likely to be protected from future infections. Death from Zika virus infection is extremely rare.
Where will Zika go?
World health authorities expect the outbreak to eventually reach South Florida and the Gulf Coast to northern Argentina and Chile. Hawaii is also expected to be affected.
In the United States, all Zika cases reported as of April 1, 2016, have been travel-associated—no cases have been acquired locally from infected mosquitoes.
The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites! You can do this by:
- Postponing travel to affected areas: Travel Health Notices
If you can’t delay travel to these places, take the following safety precautions to reduce your risk:
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Apply insect repellent if going outside.
- When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women. Learn more about using insect repellents safely and effectively here.
- Use mosquito netting if you can’t use other means of protection: Cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers!
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
If you have Zika, protect others from getting sick:
- Avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.
- If you are sexually active, use condoms every time you have sex.
- Not having sex is the best way to prevent others from acquiring sexually transmitted Zika virus!
When to Call Us
If you have two or more of the associated symptoms—mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, or muscle and joint pain—and you have recently traveled to an affected area within the past two weeks, please call us! We’ll help you take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of local Zika virus transmission.