Zika is a virus that is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus). Zika can also be passed through sex, from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and there have been reports of transmission through blood transfusions. Zika infection during pregnancy is a cause of birth defects, such as microcephaly, and other fetal abnormalities. Zika has been found in many countries around the world. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika. Click here for the most up to date world map of areas with risk of Zika.
Most people that are infected with Zika do not have symptoms. If a person does have symptoms, the most common are fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red eyes), joint pain, headache, and muscle pain. Symptoms usually last for several days to one week. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika, but people do not usually become sick enough to be hospitalized or die from Zika. On rare occasions, Zika has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is a nervous system disorder. After someone is infected with Zika, it is likely they cannot become infected with Zika again.
There are several ways Zika can be prevented. If you are in an area with risk of Zika, infection can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Wear protective clothing and use EPA registered insect repellant. Also, stay in places with proper window and door screens, or use bed nets. Areas outside of the home should also be cleared of mosquito habitats. Sexual transmission can be prevented by using condoms during sex or abstaining from sex.
If you think you may have been infected with Zika, see your healthcare provider. Zika can cause symptoms that are similar to other diseases, such as chikungunya or dengue. Your healthcare provider will discuss your illness with you, and determine if testing is needed.
For more general information about Zika, please refer to the Virginia Department of Health Zika Virus Fact Sheet.