CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Zika Virus Infection

Definition

A Zika infection is caused by a virus that is passed from an infected mosquito. The virus may cause flu-like symptoms in some. Severe complications or illness that need hospitalization are very rare. The Zika viurs is also linked to certain birth defects, see Zika Virus Infection and Pregnancy for more information.

Causes    TOP

A specific type of mosquito can pick up the Zika virus when it bites someone with a current Zika infection. The mosquito can then pass the virus to the next person it bites. Once the virus is in the body it can spread and lead to symptoms.

Virus Attack on Cell

Virus
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors    TOP

The greatest risk factor is spending time in a high risk area without proper mosquito protection. A current outbreak of Zika has been reported in:

  • South America particularly Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela
  • Mexico and Central America particularly El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama
  • The Caribbean particularly Barbados, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, and Saint Martin

Previous outbreaks have been reported in Africa and Southeast Asia. Check with government travel resources to see where current outbreaks are before you travel.

Symptoms    TOP

Most people infected with the Zika virus will never develop symptoms. The body can detect and remove the virus before symptoms begin.

If symptoms do develop, they may appear a few days after the bite. Symptoms may last a few days to a week and can include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis—redness and irritation of eye
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A viral infection may be suspected based on your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about any recent travel, especially to high risk areas.

There are a number of similar viruses that can be passed from mosquitoes such as chikungunya or dengue. A blood test may be done to determine the specific virus that is causing the symptoms.

Treatment    TOP

Symptoms should pass on their own within a week. There are no medications to treat a Zika infection, basic home care including rest and drinking enough fluids can help recovery.

Acetaminophen may be recommended to help decrease fever or pain. Other over the counter medications like NSAIDs and aspirin are not recommended if the specific virus has not been identified. NSAIDs and aspirin can cause complications with other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue infection.

If you have the Zika virus, it is unlikely that you can pass it directly to other people. However, if a mosquito bites you while you are infected, that mosquito can then pass the infection to someone else. The mosquito will most often affect people nearby such as family or neighbors. It is important to take precaution against mosquito bites while you are infected, about a week, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Family Planning

The Zika virus may exist in the body or in sperm for a short time even after symptoms have passed. To decrease the risk of passing the virus to a new fetus the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends:

  • Women who have been infected or suspect an infection should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant.
  • Men who have been infected or had possible exposure to Zika should wait at least 6 months before trying to have a child with your partner.

For those who have been to high risk areas but have shown no symptoms the CDC recommends waiting at least 8 weeks before attempting pregnancy. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have about future pregnancy.

Prevention    TOP

There is no current vaccine for the Zika virus. Protecting yourself from mosquito bites is the best prevention. If you live in areas with known mosquito-related illnesses or you are traveling to areas with this risk:

  • Spend your time in locations that are protected by insect screens or have air-conditioning.
  • Cover your skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and socks and shoes.
  • Use insect repellents on your skin and your clothing. Look for repellents that contain DEET.
  • Use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
  • Choose permethrin-treated clothes and equipment or treat your clothes with permethrin.
  • Do not leave standing water in buckets, flowers pots, or other containers. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.

For babies and children:

  • Do not use insect repellent on children under 2 months of age.
  • Cover carriers, stroller, and cribs with mosquito netting.
  • Dress children in clothing that covers the arms and legs.
  • When applying repellent to children 2 months and older:
    • Spray into adults hands and then apply to child’s face.
    • Avoid getting repellent on child’s hands, eyes, and mouth.

There is some concern that the Zika virus can be passed during sexual activities. A condom can prevent the spread. If your partner has recently been to high risk areas, a condom is recommended for the first week or so to prevent the spread of Zika.

RESOURCES:

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov
World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Zika virus fact sheets. Centers for Disease Control and prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Last update: January 21, 2016. Accessed January 28, 2016.
Zika virus disease questions and answers. WHO website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Last updated January 20, 2016. Accessed January 29, 2016.
Zika virus infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 30, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
9/30/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... :CDC Zika interim response plan. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/public-health-partners/cdc-zika-interim-response-plan.html. Updated September 30, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2017 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/17/2017

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000