Zika Virus

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is spread primarily by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, mainly the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue virus, yellow fever virus and Chikungunya.

 

About Zika

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is spread primarily by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, mainly the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue virus, yellow fever virus and Chikungunya.

Zika was reported in Brazil in May of 2015 and has since spread to over two dozen countries in the Americas. It is likely the virus will spread to other countries in the region.

A person can become infected with the Zika virus by:

  • Being bitten by an infected mosquito
  • Having unprotected sex with an infected male partner
  • Blood transfusion

Becoming infected with Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

Once a person has been infected, they are likely to be protected from future infections.

 

Symptoms

Only 20 percent of Zika-infected persons show symptoms. Symptoms are generally mild and can last anywhere from a few days to a week.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Raised red rash
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

 

Testing for Zika

There is no commercially available, or rapid test available to diagnose Zika. Testing is done at the Center for Disease Control, and must be ordered through local or state health departments.

Travelers returning from Zika-affected areas should consult with a medical provider if flu-like symptoms develop within two weeks of returning home.

Pregnant woman returning from Zika-affected areas should consult with her physician even without showing symptoms.

 

Treating Zika

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, nor is there specific medication to treat. Zika symptoms are generally mild, and supportive care is recommended.

    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Drink lots of fluids.
    • Take medicine such as Tylenol to reduce fever and pain. Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
    • If you take medication for another medical condition, make sure to discuss with your medical provider before taking additional medication.

 If you have Zika, make sure to prevent mosquito bites for at least a week to avoid passing the virus along to other mosquitoes.

 

Pregnancy & Zika

Pregnant women infected with Zika can pass the virus along to their fetus, potentially causing serious birth defects such as Microcephaly (small head and brain).

The CDC recommends pregnant women (or women who plan to become pregnant) postpone travel to any area with ongoing Zika virus transmission.

If you are planning a trip and are unsure if you are pregnant, you should have a pregnancy test, as well as take precautions to avoid pregnancy while traveling.

See the CDC website for more information.

 

Sexually Transmitted Zika

Zika virus can be sexually transmitted by an infected male to his sex partners, both through vaginal and anal intercourse. The virus can live longer in semen than in blood.

It is possible for a male partner to carry Zika and give it to his partner(s) through sex, even when he does not have symptoms, or know that he is infected. 

Men returning from, or living in Zika infected areas with no Zika symptoms should use condoms for eight weeks after returning from affected area; six months if symptoms were or are present.

 

Preventing Zika

There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent getting Zika is through regular mosquito bite prevention and practicing safe sex.

Mosquito Protection

    • Use EPA-approved insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin or IR3535.
    •  Mosquito proof your home:
      • Use screens on windows and doors.
      • Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
      • Use air conditioning when available.
      • Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water. Mosquitos can breed in water as little as a bottle cap.
    • Wear protective clothing (long sleeves/pants) or treat with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

 

Protecting against sexually transmitted Zika

    • The safest way to prevent contracting Zika sexually is by abstaining from sexual activities, or using condoms correctly.
      • Men returning from, or living in Zika infected areas with no Zika symptoms should use condoms for eight weeks after returning from affected area; six months if symptoms were or are present.

 

Resources

Websites:

Handouts:

Pat Walker Health Center

  • 525 N Garland Ave
  • University of Arkansas
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
  • P 479-575-4451
  • F 479-575-8793

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