With mosquito season approaching, you may have questions about Zika, the mosquito-borne illness that’s linked to an increase in microcephalyand other birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionhas created a comprehensive website dedicated to Zika. We’ve combed their website for quick answers to your most frequently asked questions.
What is Zika?
“Zika” refers to an illness caused by the Zika virus. Though the virus was first identified in humans more than 50 years ago, it has been in the news recently because of a possible link with microcephaly and other birth defects.
How is Zika transmitted?
Zika can be transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, sexual intercourse, or from a mother to a baby in the womb or at the time of birth.
What are the symptoms?
As many as one in five people have no symptoms at all. Others experience mild fever, joint pain and other flu-like symptoms. Most recover with no intervention within a few days.
What is the danger posed by Zika?
While the exact nature of the link is not yet clear, an increased likelihood of microcephaly and other birth defects have been reported in babies born to women infected with Zika during pregnancy.
- Not all babies whose mothers had Zika during pregnancy are born with health problems.
- Zika does not appear to pose a particular health hazard for newborns, older babies or children.
In addition to the risk to fetuses, a very small percentage of adults who have been infected with Zika may develop Guillain-Barré syndrome.
How do I avoid getting the virus?
When you’re in an area known to have Zika or other mosquito-borne illnesses, take precautions to prevent getting bitten. Read the CDC’s complete list of prevention strategies.
How do I avoid spreading the virus?
All travelers (both healthy and ill) returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take precautions against mosquito bites for three weeks in order to prevent the spread of Zika in the U.S.
Is the Zika virus in the U.S.?
As of May 25, 2016, there have been no reported mosquito-borne transmissions of Zika in any states (there have been instances in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Because the Aedes mosquito can be found in many parts of the continental U.S., it’s believed that the virus will eventually travel to some states, particularly in the southern regions. Visit the CDC for up-to-date information on infection rates in the U.S.
If I had Zika and recovered before I got pregnant, is there any danger to my unborn child now?
Based on available evidence, the CDC thinks that once the Zika virus infection has cleared from a woman’s blood, there is no lingering danger to future pregnancies.
Supplemental information comes from the World Health Organization.