What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquitoes. Common symptoms of Zika infection include mild headaches, rash, fever, malaise, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and joint pains. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for 2-7 days.
What about complications with pregnancy?
Since initial reports of a link between Zika and microcephaly, researchers across the world began working to study the link between Zika during pregnancy and microcephaly. In a recent article, CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.
What places have outbreaks of Zika?
The Zika virus is now being locally transmitted in parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, according to the CDC and WHO.
Zika has arrived in the United States from travelers returning from these infected areas and, in one case, through sexual transmission.
**Update 08/01/16: The Florida Department of Health has identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. This guidance is for people who live in or traveled to this area any time after June 15 (based on the earliest time symptoms can start and the maximum 2-week incubation period for Zika virus).
Is there a treatment for Zika?
As of 2016, no vaccine or preventative drug is available. Symptoms can be treated with rest, fluids, and over the counter pain relievers.
What can you do to prevent Zika infection?
The easiest way to prevent infection is to avoid travel to areas where Zika virus is being transmitted. If you do travel to a country where Zika is present, the CDC advises you to protect yourself from mosquito bites: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, use an EPA-approved repellent (bug spray) over sunscreen, eliminate any standing water in the area you are staying, and sleep in air-conditioned, screened rooms, among others.
Should we be concerned about Zika virus in the United States?
Aedes species of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus already inhabit the United States. However, mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland are not currently infected with the virus.
Travelers who visit a country where Zika is found could become infected if bitten by a mosquito. With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases may eventually result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. CDC has been monitoring these cases imported into the United States and working to prevent local transmission.
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