Zika is a type of virus that is spread by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that carry Zika are most active during the day but can bite at night.
You're more likely to get the virus if you travel to parts of the world where it's more common. This includes parts of South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.
Most people infected with Zika don't have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, they include fever, rash, painful joints, and red eyes. But it can be more serious for women who are pregnant because it can cause birth defects.
Experts have found that infection with Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). But only a small number of people who are infected with Zika virus will get GBS.
Doctors are quickly learning more about what happens when people are infected with Zika virus. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have the most current information about Zika virus. If you plan to travel, you can learn about your risk in the area you're traveling to. Contact:
Zika is most often spread through a bite from an infected mosquito. It can be spread by someone who has the Zika virus through sexual contact, even if the infected person does not have symptoms.
Travelers who have Zika can spread it when they come home or travel to another area. If they get bitten, they can spread the virus to other mosquitoes.
A pregnant woman who gets infected with Zika can pass it to her unborn baby.
Most people infected with Zika don't have any symptoms. Symptoms are usually mild. They most often start within a week after the bite. The main symptoms may include:
Some people also have a headache and muscle pain.
There is no treatment for Zika virus. Symptoms usually go away on their own after about a week.
Treating your symptoms may help you feel better.
Experts believe that babies born to women who have the virus are at risk for birth defects, including microcephaly (say "my-kroh-SEF-uh-lee"). Microcephaly means that the baby's head is smaller than normal. It causes problems in how the baby's brain develops.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women wait until after they give birth before they travel to areas where there are Zika outbreaks.
Zika can be spread through sexual contact even if the person does not have symptoms. If your male partner has been to an area where there is a Zika outbreak, the CDC recommends that you delay having sex until the baby is born or use condoms every time you have vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
If you are pregnant and have traveled to an area with an outbreak of Zika, talk to your doctor about additional tests you may need.
Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant and their male partners should talk to their doctor about the risk of traveling to areas where there are Zika outbreaks. Experts recommend that you delay pregnancy if you or your male partner has been to an area with ongoing Zika transmission.
After returning from an area with risk of Zika:
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. But you can protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially when you travel.
If you have been to an area where there is a Zika outbreak, use condoms or do not have sex for at least 2 months for women and 3 months for men.
If you do get infected with Zika, protect yourself from mosquito bites for at least 3 weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. Men should use condoms or not have sex for at least 3 months after symptoms begin. Women should use condoms or not have sex for at least 2 months after symptoms begin. This will help prevent the virus from spreading to other people.
Current as of: July 1, 2021
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