A baby born in a Hawaii hospital is the first in the U.S. with a birth defect linked to the Zika virus
What Is Zika Virus?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus, which is spread to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The Zika virus is closely related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.
Other Than Through Mosquito Bites, How Can Zika Virus Be Transmitted?
Although Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, there are several other modes of transmission:
No specific antiviral treatment is available for Zika virus disease. Treatment is generally supportive and can include rest, fluids, and use of analgesics and antipyretics. Because of similar geographic distribution and symptoms, patients with suspected Zika virus infections also should be evaluated and managed for possible dengue or chikungunya virus infection. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. In particular, pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen. People infected with Zika, chikungunya, or dengue virus should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of illness to reduce the risk of local transmission.
No vaccine or preventive drug is available. The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to:
- Avoid mosquito bites.
- Use air conditioning or window and door screens when indoors.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellents when outdoors. Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than two months. Pregnant and lactating women can use all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
Recommendations for Health Care Providers and Public Health Practitioners
- Zika virus infection should be considered in patients with acute fever, rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis, who traveled to areas with ongoing transmission in the two weeks prior to onset of illness.
- All travelers should take steps to avoid mosquito bites to prevent Zika virus infection and other mosquito-borne diseases.
- Until more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctors or other healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare providers before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- Fetuses and infants of women infected with Zika virus during pregnancy should be evaluated for possible congenital infection and neurologic abnormalities.
- Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected Zika virus disease cases to their state or local health department to facilitate diagnosis and to mitigate the risk of local transmission.
- Health departments should perform surveillance for Zika virus disease in returning travelers and be aware of the risk of possible local transmission in areas where Aedes species mosquitoes are active.
- State health departments are requested to report laboratory-confirmed Zika virus infections to CDC.
For More Information
- General information about Zika virus and disease: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
- Zika virus information for clinicians: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/index.html
- Protection against mosquitoes: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods
- Travel notices related to Zika virus: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
- Information about Zika virus for travelers and travel health providers: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/zika
- Pan American Health Organization (PAHO): http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html
- Approximate distribution of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes in the United States: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/resources/vector-control.html