Zika Virus

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What is Zika virus (Zika)?

Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread to people mainly from the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  About one in five people infected with Zika will get sick.  The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to one week.  Most people will not realize they have been infected.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).  Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

How is Zika virus transmitted?

Zika is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected from biting a person already infected with the disease. Infected mosquitos can then spread Zika to other people through bites.

Zika virus can also spread:

  • From a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
  • During sex with a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners.

To date there have not been any confirmed blood transfusion transmission cases in the United States, but there have been reports of blood transfusion transmission cases in Brazil.  These reports are being investigated.

For more information about how Zika is transmitted, refer to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

How can Zika virus be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika.  The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. The following can help protect you and your family from mosquito bites:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellant.  All EPA-registered insect repellants are evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Do not use insect repellant on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Do not apply insect repellant on a child's hands, eyes, mouth, cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: spray insect repellant on your hands and then apply to a child's face.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during daylight for about two hours after sunrise and several hours before sunset.  Protect yourself from mosquito bites at night in well-lit areas.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present, including indoor areas.
  • Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings.  Do not prop open doors.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water in and around your home:
    • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, roof gutters, or trash containers. 
  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

How is Zika virus diagnosed?

If you have recently traveled to areas with local Zika transmission and you develop symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes), consult a healthcare provider immediately. Currently, Zika testing is coordinated between the Oakland County Health Division and your healthcare provider.  For questions about testing, speak to your healthcare provider or contact Oakland County Health Division's Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or by email at noc@oakgov.com.

What is the treatment for Zika virus?

There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.  Instead, you can treat the symptoms by:

  • Getting plenty of rest.
  • Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Taking medications such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
  • Talking to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication if you are taking medicine for another medical condition.
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without consulting a healthcare provider.

Who is at risk of Zika virus infection?

Anyone without prior exposure to the virus and who lives in or travels to an area where local transmission has been reported may become infected. For a complete list of countries and territories with Zika virus activity, view this information on the CDC website.

How does Zika virus infection affect pregnant women and unborn babies?

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes. CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):
    • Should not travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
    • Pregnant women and their sex partners should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
    • If you have a sex partner who lives in or travels to an area with Zika, you should prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex during the pregnancy.
    • If you develop the symptoms of Zika, see a healthcare provider right away for testing.
  • Women trying to become pregnant:
    • Women trying to become pregnant and their partners should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
    • Talk to a healthcare provider about plans to become pregnant and the risks of Zika virus infection.

For up-to-date information regarding CDC's Zika virus travel restrictions, click on the CDC website, or contact Oakland County Health Division's Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or by email at noc@oakgov.com. For up-to-date information about pregnancy and Zika virus, this can also be found on the CDC website.

Contact Information

For Zika Virus or other public health questions, please call Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533.

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