Here are the latest developments in the recent outbreak of Zika virus:
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is a germ that is spread to people through mosquito bites. Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands. It is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. Zika virus is not currently found in the United States. However, cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers. For the most up-to-date information of where Zika virus is found, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.
How does Zika virus spread?
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They are daytime biters. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Zika virus can also be spread by an infected man to his sex partners. An infected man can transmit the virus before, during and after symptoms develop.
The virus can be spread from mother to child during pregnancy. A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth. Further studies are needed to determine if adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes are associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy. There are currently no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.
In theory, Zika virus could be spread through blood transfusion. However, to date, there are no known reports of this.
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus may develop symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eye. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
How is Zika virus diagnosed?
If you develop the symptoms described above and have recently traveled to areas with Zika outbreaks, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika.
How is Zika virus treated?
There is currently no specific treatment for Zika virus. Proper care can help relieve symptoms, including getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, and medication to reduce fever and pain, including acetaminophen, or paracetamol. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
How can Zika virus be prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. If you are a man infected with Zika, prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:
Prevent Mosquito Bites:
While outdoors in an area with mosquitoes:
- Use a mosquito repellent. Repellents approved by the EPA include those containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Picaridin or IR3535. Read the directions on the product label to find out about precautions that need to be taken and how long the product is effective.
- If you use a product containing DEET, do not use concentrations of more than 30% DEET. Apply DEET to exposed skin (not eyes or mouth) and on clothes, but do not use on open cuts or wounds. Do not apply underneath clothes.
- Do not let children apply repellents to themselves. Apply the repellent to your hands and rub it on the child. Do not apply repellents to children's eyes, mouth, or hands and use cautiously around ears. Do not apply DEET on infants (mosquito netting can be used over infant carriers) or oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3 years of age.
- When weather permits, wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If needed, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
Prevent Mosquito Breeding:
Mosquitoes need water to breed. Young mosquitoes (larvae) live in water before growing into adults that can fly. Items that collect water should be emptied at least once a week to prevent mosquito breeding.
- Containers: Turn over or cover unused flower pots, buckets, garbage cans, and wheelbarrows. Change water in birdbaths once a week.
- Gutters: Remove leaves and other debris that can clog gutters and trap water.
- Pools: Cover unused swimming pools and turn over kiddie pools when not in use. Be sure to keep swimming pool covers clear of leaves and water. Keep large pools treated and circulating.
- Old Tires: Cover or dispose of them. They are a favorite mosquito-breeding site.
We also have posters available in various languages. If you are in Boston and interested in ordering copies, email email@example.com with the number of copies and languages needed along with your address. To view the poster(s), please click on the link(s) below:
English Zika Poster
English Zika and Pregnancy Poster
Portuguese Zika Poster
Portuguese Zika and Pregnancy Poster
Spanish Zika Poster
Spanish Zika and Pregnancy Poster