Zika Virus

Is this your symptom?

  • Travel to or living in an area with recent transmission of Zika virus
  • Exposure to a person with Zika virus
  • Questions about Zika virus

Some Basics:

  • Zika is a virus that spreads mainly through the bite of an Aedes species mosquito. It is the cause of the Zika virus infection, also called Zika Fever.
  • Zika can also be passed through having sex with a person who has Zika. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
  • There have been outbreaks in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Latin and South America. In 2016 there have been some cases reported of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in parts of Florida (Miami-Dade County).
  • Zika may cause microcephaly (small head and brain) and other brain defects in babies born to women infected while pregnant.

Symptoms

Most people do not even know when they get this. Only one out of five people have symptoms. Symptoms usually last about 2-7 days. Common symptoms of the Zika virus are:

  • Eye redness: The whites of the eyes may become pink or red. There is no pus or discharge.
  • Fever: Fever is usually low-grade (less than 101.5° F or 38.6° C).
  • Joint pain or aching
  • Widespread pink-red rash (small flat spots or bumpy)

Cause

  • It is caused by the Zika virus.

Risk Factors

You are at risk of getting Zika if you:

  • Live in or recently traveled to a Zika outbreak area and are bit by mosquitos there.
  • You have had unprotected sex (no condom) with a person who lives in or recently traveled to a Zika outbreak area.
  • Your unborn baby may be at risk if you are infected with Zika while pregnant.

Diagnosis

  • It is hard to diagnosis Zika virus. There are many other illnesses that have the same symptoms.
  • There are blood tests that can help diagnose Zika. However, these tests are only available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in some state health departments. Doctor offices and emergency departments do not have this test.

How It Is Spread

  • The main way the virus is spread to others is through mosquito bites.
  • A mosquito bites a person who already has Zika. The mosquito then bites other people and infects them.
  • It can also spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby or to the baby during birth.
  • A person who has Zika can spread the virus to his or her partner during sex. This includes vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • There have been no known cases of infants getting Zika from breastfeeding. Because of the many benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding even if they live in a Zika outbreak area (CDC).

Prevention

  • There is no vaccine to prevent Zika.
  • The best way to not get Zika is to avoid mosquito bites.
  • If a women is planning to become pregnant, she and her partner should avoid travel to a Zika outbreak area if at all possible.
  • Always use a condom (or avoid sex) if you have sex with a person who lives in or recently traveled to a Zika outbreak area.

Complications

Almost all people with Zika get better without any special treatment. Most people do not get very sick and do not need to go to the hospital.

  • However, if a woman gets infected with the Zika virus while pregnant, it may harm the baby. A pregnant woman who has Zika can pass the virus to her unborn child.
  • The virus may cause serious birth defects that affect the brain, including microcephaly (means small brain and head). More studies are being done to learn how Zika harms unborn babies.

What Countries have Zika Outbreaks?

Before 2015, Zika outbreaks occurred in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. In 2015 Zika spread to many countries in Latin and South America.

The CDC has a website for travelers to find out where outbreaks are happening. See http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/.

When to Call for Zika Virus

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Fever, eye redness, achy joints, or a rash after traveling to a place with a Zika outbreak
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You are pregnant and recently traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak
  • You are planning a trip to a place with a Zika outbreak and you are trying to get pregnant
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Zika Virus, questions about

Care Advice

Home Care Treatment for Zika

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Zika is spread mainly from the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can also spread from person to person during sex.
    • Most people who are infected do not get sick or have only mild symptoms.
    • The main symptoms are: fever, eye redness, rash and joint pain.
    • Zika may cause microcephaly (small head and brain) and other brain defects in babies born to women infected while pregnant.
    • Currently there are no special medicines to treat Zika. Most people can treat their symptoms at home.
  2. Fever Medicine:
    • For fever above 101° F (38.3° C) you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
    • This is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. You can buy it at the drugstore.
    • The goal for treating fever is to bring it down to a comfortable level.
    • Fever medicine usually lowers fevers by 2° F (1 - 1.5° C).
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your fever or pain feel better.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You are pregnant and recently traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak.
    • You have fever, eye redness, achy joints, or a rash after traveling to a place with a Zika outbreak.
    • You are planning a trip to a place with a Zika outbreak and you are trying to get pregnant.
    • You have more questions.
    • You think you need to be seen.
    • You get worse.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

  1. Stay Indoors: Stay indoors as much as possible, if you have to travel to a place where there is an outbreak of Zika.
  2. Tips to Help Prevent Mosquito Bites While Outdoors:
    • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
    • Stay indoors at sunrise, early evening, and at sunset. These are the times of day when mosquitoes are most active.
    • Avoid wearing perfumed lotions or fragrances. Remember, mosquitoes are attracted to these smells.
    • Insect repellents like DEET, permethrin, and picaridin work well to prevent mosquito bites.
  3. DEET is a Very Strong Mosquito Repellent:
    • Higher strength DEET works better and lasts longer. However, there is no advantage to using DEET over 50% strength. It works the same.
    • For children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum strength of 30%.
    • Women that are breastfeeding may use DEET. No problems have been found.
    • Instructions: Spray it on exposed areas of skin. Do not put it near your eyes, mouth or any irritated skin. Do not put it on skin that is covered by clothing. Always wash it off with soap and water when you return indoors.
    • Availability: DEET is sold over-the-counter.
    • Warning: DEET can damage clothing made of synthetic fibers, plastics, and leather.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all products you use.
  4. Permethrin is an Insect and Mosquito Repellent for Your Clothing:
    • Unlike DEET, permethrin is put on clothing instead of the skin.
    • Instructions: Put it on socks, pants, shirts, hats. You can also use it on other outdoor items (mosquito screens, sleeping bags, tents).
    • Availability: Permethrin is sold over-the-counter. Examples are Duranon and Permanone.
    • Warning: Do not put permethrin on the skin. Reason: Sweat changes it so it does not work.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all products you use.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns.

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/22/2017 1:26:05 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:24 PM

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