What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus causes a disease called Zika which presents with symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. People rarely get sick enough to go to the hospital and it is very rare for people to die because of Zika virus. Only 1 in 5 people who get infected will actually have symptoms so many people may never know they had the virus.
How is Zika transmitted?
There are three ways Zika can be transmitted:
- The virus is spread primarily through mosquitos. Mosquitos acquire the virus when they bite an infected person, and then pass on the virus when biting another person.
- The virus can be passed during pregnancy from mother to baby. This may happen at any time during pregnancy or during birth.
- The virus can also be spread through sexual contact, although there are only a few reports of sexually transmitted Zika disease. These appear to be in symptomatic men who spread the virus to their female partners. It is unknown if men without symptoms can pass on the disease and it is also unclear whether infected women can pass the virus to their male partners.
How can I prevent from being infected?
- Don’t travel to Zika infected areas. These areas are constantly evolving so it is important to check the CDC website if you are planning to travel outside the United States. Currently, there are no cases of Zika acquired in the United States, but this may also change as the virus progresses. A detailed list of infected areas can be found on the CDC website. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html
- If you are planning travel to an infected area, take protective measure such as wearing clothes that cover your skin, stay indoors as much as possible and use insect repellent.
- Abstain from intercourse or use condoms if your partner has known or suspected Zika disease.
How will Zika affect me if I am pregnant?
In women who have contracted the Zika virus during pregnancy, there have been reports of a serious birth defect called microcephaly which is a condition where the baby’s head is smaller than normal. There have been other reports of poor pregnancy outcomes associated with Zika, however these associations are not well understood and are still evolving.
If you are pregnant, the recommendations are not to travel to infected areas and to use protective measures such as clothing that covers your skin and insect repellant.
What should I do if I am trying to get pregnant?
If you have been exposed to Zika and could potentially be infected, it is recommended to wait 8 weeks before attempting pregnancy. If you are infected with Zika and are showing symptoms, it is recommend to wait 8 weeks from the resolution of your symptoms before attempting pregnancy.
If your male partner has been exposed to Zika, it is advised to wait 8 weeks from his exposure before attempting conception. If your male partner has been infected with Zika, it is recommend to wait 6 months prior to attempting pregnancy.
How can I get more information?
The most up-to-date information can be found on the CDC website, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.