The Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread other viruses like dengue and chikungunya. Only about one in five people infected with the Zika virus will feel sick. In those that do, symptoms are usually mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eye.
People are contracting Zika in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are present, which include South America, Central America and the Caribbean. As the CDC notes, specific areas where the Zika virus is being transmitted are likely to change over time, so please check the CDC website for the most updated information.
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.
Treat the symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
There may be a link between a serious birth defect called microcephaly—a condition in which a baby's head is smaller than expected—and other poor pregnancy outcomes and a Zika infection in a mother during pregnancy. While the link between Zika and these outcomes is being investigated the CDC recommends that you take special precautions if you fall into one of these groups:
- If you are pregnant (in any trimester):
- You should consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus is active.
- If you must travel to an active region, talk to your doctor first and follow the steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- If you are trying to become pregnant:
- Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risks posed from infection.
If you fall into one of these groups,the CDC has provided thorough information on what you should do.
Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent this disease. The best way to prevent diseases by mosquitoes is to protect yourself from getting bitten. Here’s how:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window, door screens, and netting to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- You can get a more in-depth explanation of prevention measures from the CDC.
The U.S. mainland does have Aedes species mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. U.S. travelers who visit a country where Zika is found could become infected if bitten by a mosquito.
With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. CDC has been monitoring these epidemics and is prepared to address cases imported into the United States and cases transmitted locally.