Have Questions About Zika?
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE ZIKA VIRUS (ZIKA)? Zika is a disease spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. (Similar to viruses that cause yellow fever, West Nile, etc.)
WHY IS ZIKA IN THE NEWS? Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a disorder that results in babies being born with extremely small heads and severe developmental issues. The condition sometimes results in death. In the last three months, Brazil has had almost 4,000 cases of babies with microcephaly, born to women who were infected with Zika during their pregnancies.
In the United States, only one Hawaiian baby was born with microcephaly after his mother returned from Brazil. In Illinois, two pregnant women who traveled to Latin America have tested positive for the virus so health officials are monitoring their pregnancies.
HOW DO YOU GET INFECTED? The Zika virus is transmitted when an Aedes mosquito bites someone who has an active Zika infection and then the mosquito spreads the virus by biting others.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AND MY BABY? Do not travel to an area where the Zika virus is active. If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ZIKA? The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. About one in five people infected with Zika will get sick.
HOW SEVERE IS ILLNESS FROM ZIKA? For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. 80% of the women who get the virus do not know that they have it.
I AM PREGNANT. HOW WILL ZIKA VIRUS AFFECT ME OR MY UNBORN BABY? SHOULD I TRAVEL TO A COUNTRY WHERE CASES OF ZIKA HAVE BEEN REPORTED? CDC has issued a travel notice, recommending:
Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing is likely to change over time. See http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/ for information on which countries are impacted.
IS IT SAFE TO USE AN INSECT REPELLENT IF I AM PREGNANT OR NURSING? Yes! Using an insect repellent is safe and effective. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose an EPA-registered insect repellent and use it according to the product label.
IF A WOMAN WHO IS NOT PREGNANT IS BITTEN BY A MOSQUITO AND INFECTED WITH ZIKA VIRUS, WILL HER FUTURE PREGNANCIES BE AT RISK? No. Zika virus infection does not pose a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week.
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS? Contact your trusted health care provider.
Sources: www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html; www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/health/zika-what-you-need-to-know/