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Zika is a virus that is spread mostly by mosquitoes. A pregnant mother can pass it to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It can spread through sexual contact. There have also been reports that the virus has spread through blood transfusions. There have been outbreaks of Zika virus in the United States, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, parts of the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Most people who get the virus do not get sick. One in five people do get symptoms, which can include a fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Symptoms are usually mild, and start 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
A blood test can tell whether you have the infection. There are no vaccines or medicines to treat it. Drinking lots of fluids, resting, and taking acetaminophen might help.
Zika can cause microcephaly (a serious birth defect of the brain) and other problems in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women do not travel to areas where there is a Zika virus outbreak. If you do decide to travel, first talk to your doctor. You should also be careful to prevent mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent
- Wear clothes that cover your arms, legs, and feet
- Stay in places that have air conditioning or that use window and door screens
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Find the Repellent that is Right for You (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Help Control Mosquitoes that Spread Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Viruses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Protect against Mosquito Bites when Traveling (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Zika - Sexual Transmission and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- CDC's Response to Zika: Enjoy Your Vacation (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
- Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects: Zika (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Zika and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Zika Travel Information (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Zika Virus: Plan for Travel (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Zika Virus (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Neurological growth and development of children asymptomatic at birth whose mothers...
- Article: Knowledge of Zika Virus Transmission and Its Prevention among High-Risk Pregnant...
- Article: Evaluation of the Expression of CCR5 and CX3CR1 Receptors and Correlation...
- Zika Virus -- see more articles
- Fact Sheet: What Parents Need to Know about Zika Virus (Administration for Children and Families)
- For Men: A Positive Zika Virus Test, What Does It Mean for Me? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF