Zika Virus: What You Need to Know
Dr. Arathi Rao, BCH Infectious Disease Physician
Zika virus infection is not new. This virus was first discovered in 1947
in Zika Forest of Uganda, thus named Zika virus. Human cases first appearing
in 1952 in Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania. Sporadic outbreaks
have occurred since then, in Africa and Southeast Asia, with one of the
largest outbreaks occurring on the Pacific Island of Yap in 2007. The
virus then spread to French Polynesia, Easter Island, Cook Island, and
New Caledonia in 2013/2014.
In 2015, the virus spread to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
In 2016 it spread to involve areas of Mexico, U.S. territories (American
Samoa, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands), as well as parts of South
Florida and Texas. Most recently, new cases have been diagnosed in Southeast Asia.
Important notice: Pregnant women should avoid all non-essential travel
to areas with Zika.
Map of Areas with Zika Risk
(Image Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquito which tend to bite in the daytime
- Sexual transmission (male to partner; female to partner)
- Via blood transfusion, lab exposure, organ/tissue transplantation
- Maternal/fetal: intrauterine/perinatal
- Most patients are asymptomatic. However, those with symptoms may have:
Fever, Headaches, Muscle aches, Joint pains, rash, and red eyes. Symptoms
usually last around 4-7 days.
- Microcephaly: condition where infants head is significantly smaller than normal
- Guillain Barre Syndrome -- an autoimmune neurological complication
- Use mosquito repellents and avoid mosquito bites for three weeks upon return
- Avoid standing/activities near stagnant water
Abstinence or male condom use is recommended after travel to risk area:
Asymptomatic: 6 months after return
Symptomatic: 6 months from lab-confirmed infection
- For duration of pregnancy if female partner pregnant
- Pending test results
There is no vaccine available at this time.
Questions about conception: Please speak to your health care provider or
visit us at the
Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases.