Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is carried by mosquitos. The virus is spread to a human through the bite of an infected mosquito.
How is Zika virus spread?
Zika virus may be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. The virus may also be passed from one person to another through sex. This includes oral, anal, or vaginal sex with a man or woman. You may be at risk for Zika virus if you travel or live in an area with infected mosquitos. Mosquitoes are usually found near water. Examples include ponds, buckets of water, animal dishes, and flower pots. Infected mosquitoes bite most often during the day.
What are the signs and symptoms of Zika virus?
You may not have signs or symptoms of Zika virus. If you develop signs or symptoms, they may happen suddenly and last for 2 to 7 days. You may have any of the following:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Red or itchy eyes
How is Zika virus infection diagnosed?
- Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell him or her if you have traveled recently. Also tell him or her if you are pregnant or think you are pregnant. Your blood and urine may be tested for infection. If you are a man, a sample of your semen may be tested for infection.
- You may need an amniocentesis if you are pregnant. An amniocentesis takes a sample of fluid from the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac surrounds and protects your baby. The fluid removed during an amniocentesis can be tested for infection. This information will help healthcare providers decide if your baby needs continued monitoring. Infants that are delivered by infected mothers may also be tested for Zika virus. Blood may be taken from the infant, umbilical cord, or placenta.
How is Zika virus treated?
There is no treatment for Zika virus. Medicine may be given to manage your symptoms. This may include medicine to decrease pain and fever.
What are the risks of Zika virus?
A woman may pass Zika virus to her unborn baby. This may cause birth defects such as poor brain development (microcephaly), or lead to pregnancy loss. Zika virus may also cause temporary or permanent weakness or paralysis. Rarely, Zika virus may become life-threatening.
What can I do to manage my symptoms?
- Drink plenty of liquids as directed. Liquids can prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Rest as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities.
What can I do to prevent Zika virus infection?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection. Do not travel to areas where Zika virus is common. Ask your healthcare provider where it is safe to travel. Prevent mosquito bites to help decrease your risk for Zika virus infection:
- Apply insect repellent. Ask your healthcare provider which insect repellent is right for you. Follow directions on the insect repellent container. The following is a list of tips for insect repellent use:
- Do not apply insect repellent to skin under clothing.
- Apply sunscreen before you apply insect repellent.
- Wear insect repellent any time you plan to be outside. Wear insect repellent at all times if you travel or live in a high-risk area. Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Apply insect repellent every day for 3 weeks after you travel to high-risk areas.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants. This will protect your skin from mosquito bites.
- Use screens and nets. Use a mosquito net around your bed. When you travel, choose a place to stay with screens on all windows and doors. Place screens over windows and doors in your home. Fix holes or tears in screens and nets, or buy new screens and nets.
- Keep doors and windows closed. If possible, use air conditioning to cool your home.
- Apply insect repellent to clothing and gear. This includes boots, pants, socks, and tents. Do this when you camp, hike, or work outside. You can also buy clothing and gear that comes with insect repellent already on it.
- Clean and empty containers of water once a week. Examples are animal bowls, buckets of water, gutters, flower vases, and bird baths. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Empty the water and scrub these containers with soap and water. Keep water containers covered with a tight-fitting lid, when possible.
- Use insect sprays inside and outside of your home. Use an insect spray that is safe to use inside of your home. Place a device that sprays mosquitoes outside of your home. Place it in a dark, cool, area. Ask your healthcare provider where to buy these items. Follow directions that come with these products.
What can I do to prevent the spread of Zika virus infection through sex?
Zika virus may stay in your body for weeks to months after you are infected. You can spread Zika virus to your partner without knowing you are infected. Use protection for all types of sexual contact with a man or woman. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to use protection. Protection may include a condom or barrier method. Use a new condom or latex barrier each time you have sex. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Make sure that the condom fits and is put on correctly. If you are allergic to latex, use a nonlatex product such as polyurethane.
What do I need to know about Zika virus and pregnancy?
- Get tested for Zika virus before getting pregnant, if you live in or travel to where Zika is found.
- If you are a woman who has had Zika virus, wait at least 8 weeks before you try to get pregnant. This will decrease your baby's risk for Zika virus. If you have been exposed to Zika virus, you should also wait 8 weeks before you try to get pregnant . Risk for exposure includes travel to an area with Zika infection. It also includes unprotected sex with a man or a woman who has traveled to an area with Zika infection. Sex includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- If you are a man who has had Zika virus you should wait at least 6 months before you try to get your female partner pregnant. If you have been exposed to Zika virus, you should also wait 6 months before you try to get your female partner pregnant. Risk for exposure includes travel to an area with Zika infection. It also includes unprotected sex with a man or a woman who has traveled to an area with Zika infection. Sex includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Couples who live in areas with Zika virus should talk to their healthcare provider before they try to get pregnant. Both partners should be tested for Zika virus before you try to get pregnant.
- Do not have sex with a man or a woman who is infected with Zika virus while you are pregnant. Do not have sex with a man or a woman who has been exposed to Zika virus while you are pregnant. These actions will help decrease your baby's risk for Zika infection.
- If you choose to have sex during pregnancy, use a condom or latex barrier every time you have sex. Use a new condom or latex barrier each time you have sex. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Make sure that the condom fits and is put on correctly. If you are allergic to latex, use a nonlatex product such as polyurethane.
Where can I get the most up-to-date information on Zika virus?
Knowledge about Zika virus is changing quickly. Get the most up-to-date information at:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on Zika Virus
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta , GA 30329
Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
Web Address: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html
When should I seek immediate care?
- You are pregnant and feel your baby move less or stop moving.
- You are pregnant and you have cramps or pain in your abdomen or back.
- You are pregnant and you have blood or clear fluid leaking from your vagina.
When should I call my doctor?
- You have new symptoms.
- Your symptoms do not get better in 1 week, or they get worse.
- You want to get pregnant.
- You are pregnant or think you are pregnant.
- You are pregnant and think you have been exposed to Zika virus.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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