Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symp
Important Questions About Zika Virus Answered
Q: What is Zika?
A: Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
Q: How do people get infected with Zika?
A: Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a person with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners. We encourage people who have traveled to or live in places with risk of Zika to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.
Q: What health problems can result from getting Zika?
A: Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Current research suggests that Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is strongly associated with Zika; however, only a small proportion of people with recent Zika virus infection get GBS.
Once someone has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they’ll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence that past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.
Q: Should pregnant women travel to areas with a risk of Zika?
A: Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with Zika outbreaks. Before traveling to other areas with the current or past spread of Zika, pregnant women should discuss their travel plans with a doctor. Travelers who go to places with outbreaks or past or current spread can be infected with Zika. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
Q: What can people do to prevent Zika?
A: The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:
Use registered insect repellents Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air-conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
Zika can be spread by a person infected with Zika to his or her sex partners. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms. To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and the sharing of sex toys. Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex. Pregnant couples with a partner who traveled to or lives in an area with risk of Zika should use condoms every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy.
Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?
A: The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week.
Q: How is Zika diagnosed?
A: To diagnose Zika, your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you may have and collect blood or urine to test for Zika or similar viruses.
Q: Can someone who returned from an area with a risk of Zika get tested for the virus?
A: Zika virus testing is performed at CDC and some state and territorial health departments. See your doctor if you have Zika symptoms and have recently been in an area with a risk of Zika. Your doctor may order tests to look for Zika or similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya.
Q: What should pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with a risk of Zika do?
A: Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with a risk of Zika should talk to their doctor about their travel, even if they don’t feel sick. Pregnant women should see a doctor if they have any Zika symptoms during their trip or after traveling. All pregnant women can protect themselves by avoiding travel to an area with risk of Zika, preventing mosquito bites, and following recommended precautions against getting Zika through sex.
Q: I am not pregnant, but will my future pregnancies be at risk if I am infected with the Zika virus?
A: Currently, there is no evidence that a woman who has recovered from Zika virus infection (the virus has cleared her body) will have Zika-related pregnancy complications in the future. Based on information about similar infections, once a person has been infected with the Zika virus and has cleared the virus from his or her body, he or she is likely to be protected from future Zika infections.
If you’re thinking about having a baby soon and you or your partner live in or traveled to an area with the risk of Zika, talk with your doctor or another healthcare provider. See Women & Their Partners Trying to Become Pregnant.
Q: How should insect repellents be used on children to prevent mosquito bites and the viruses that some mosquitoes can spread?
A: When using insect repellent on your child always follow label instructions. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old. Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin. Adults should spray insect repellent onto their hands and then apply it to a child’s face.
Q: What should I do if I am sick, or a family member is sick, with Zika?
A: Many people infected with the Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms lasting several days to a week. If you have symptoms of Zika (fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, or muscle pain) and you live in or recently traveled to an area with risk of Zika, you should see your doctor or healthcare provider and tell him or her about your symptoms and recent travel. There is no specific medicine for Zika, but you can treat the symptoms. If you are diagnosed with Zika, protect those around you by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites and to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. Because Zika can generally be found in the blood during approximately the first week of infection and can be passed to another person through mosquito bites, help prevent others from getting sick by strictly following steps to prevent mosquito bites during the first week of illness.