February 9, 2016
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus infection have been recorded in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. In May 2015, Zika virus infections began occurring in many countries in the Americas. It is spread to people through mosquito bites.
What is the incubation period for Zika virus infection?
The incubation period (time from exposure to onset of symptoms) is uncertain, but likely only a few days.
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days. It is uncommon to have severe Zika virus infection that requires hospitalization, and rare to result in death. About one in five people infected with Zika virus develop symptoms.
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers infected with Zika virus while pregnant.
There have also been association between Zika virus infection and an unusual increase in a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). This is a rare disorder where a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and paralysis.
How is Zika virus transmitted?
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. There have been recent reports of the spread of the virus through blood transfusion and through sexual contact.
What do we know about Zika virus and sexual transmission?
There are three reported cases of male to female sexually transmitted Zika virus infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends men returning from an area with active Zika virus transmission abstain from sexual activity or use condoms, if the partner is pregnant, for the duration of the pregnancy.
For women who can become pregnant, the CDC recommends that men should consider abstaining from sexual activity or use condoms during sexual activity. The length of time for use of these protective measures is unknown. Therefore, consult with your personal health care provider about your potential risk of infection.
Where in the Americas has Zika virus transmission been reported?
US Virgin Islands
How is Zika virus infection diagnosed?
It is diagnosed through blood testing. Testing for Zika virus infection is not widely available, and is done within select testing laboratories such as public health department laboratories.
Is there a vaccine to prevent, or medical treatment for Zika virus?
There is no vaccine available to prevent, and no antiviral medical treatment for, Zika virus infections.
What do I do if I feel sick and think I may have Zika virus?
Talk to your personal health care provider or nurse if you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Tell your personal health care provider about your travel.
Take medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
Prevent additional mosquito bites to avoid spreading the disease.
How do I protect myself against Zika virus?
The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- Use insect repellent.
- If using both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first, then the repellent.
- Wear clothing (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible.
- Use physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows.
- Sleep under mosquito nets.
- Empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.
Are there travel restrictions in place?
The CDC advises that pregnant women in any trimester should postpone travel to American Samoa, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Samoa, St. Martin, Suriname, Tonga, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
The CDC advises that women trying to get pregnant should talk to their health providers in advance and strictly follow recommended steps to avoid mosquito bites.
What should I do if I’m pregnant and have traveled to a country where Zika virus has been reported?
If you have recently traveled to a country where Zika virus infection has been reported and have questions or concerns, contact your personal health care provider.
Where can I obtain more information on the Zika virus?