Zika facts

What you need to know:

1) Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquitoes. You also can get Zika through sex. Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can spread the Zika virus. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika also can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners.

2) The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellent (www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-insect-repellent-right-you)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.
  • Remove standing water around your home.

3) Zika is linked to birth defects. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly which is a sign of incomplete brain development. Physicians have found other problems in pregnancies and among fetuses and infants infected with the Zika virus before birth. If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with risk of Zika, do not have sex, or use condoms the right way, every time, during your pregnancy.

4) Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission during your trip.

5) Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites. During the first week of infection, the Zika virus can be found in a person’s blood and can pass from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika’s origins:

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected, and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

 How to prevent Zika:

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

1) Clothing

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.

2) Insect repellent

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Always follow the product label instructions.
  • When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
  • 3) At home
    Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
  • Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers or cribs.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

4) Sexual transmission
Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

 How Zika spreads:

Zika can be transmitted

  • Through mosquito bites
  • From a pregnant woman to her fetus
  • Through sex
  • Through blood transfusion (very likely but not confirmed)

Zika symptoms:

Many people infected with the Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

How Zika is diagnosed:

  • Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms and test results.
  • A blood or urine test can confirm a Zika infection.
  • Symptoms of Zika are similar to other illnesses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.
  • Your physician or other healthcare provider may order tests to look for several types of infections.

What to do if you have Zika:

There is no specific medicine or vaccine for the Zika virus. Treat the symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
  • Don’t take aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention