Zika Virus

The Zika virus is now making headlines due to outbreaks as well as the reported risk to pregnant women which results in babies with birth defects.

The spread of Zika

As per the latest information provided by the CDC, the Zika virus has not been transmitted within the United States. Cases of Zika virus have been reported in returning travelers within the United States. Countries with reports of Zika virus transmission include Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus is now seen in Brazil as well. In addition, cases have been reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and America Samoa. Other specific locations are published at the CDC’s website.

For the latest updates, please visit the CDC’s website.

What is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection new to the Western Hemisphere and related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, hence its name, the virus is common in Africa and Asia but did not spread widely into the Western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.

Almost no one on the Western Hemisphere had been infected by Zika until now. Few people on this side of the world have immune defenses against the virus, so it is spreading rapidly. Millions of people in tropical regions of the Americas may become infected.

Despite its rapid spread, the majority of those infected experience no symptoms and no lasting harm. Scientific concern is focused on women who become infected while pregnant and those who develop a temporary form of paralysis after exposure to the Zika virus.

(Information courtesy of the NY Times)

Zika virus symptoms

Zika is a disease spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Sexual transmission has now been reported as well. Approximately one in five of those infected with Zika will contract the disease and show symptoms. Although reports of Zika contraction have not included the continental United States, cases have involved returning travelers. This could increase the local spread of Zika. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should seek medical attention:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

How to avoid Zika

Anyone living in or traveling to an area with confirmed Zika transmission is at risk to contract the virus, including pregnant women. Specific locations of Zika transmission is difficult to determine and potentially changing. Please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated information on locations with confirmed Zika transmission. Avoiding travel to these confirmed locations, wearing insect repellant, long sleeves and pants will reduce the risk of contraction.

Stay informed

For further information regarding the Zika virus, its spread, effects on pregnancy and infection prevention, please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


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