Women’s Health A-Z

Zika Virus

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

Zika virus is spread to people through a bite by an infected mosquito, during sexual intercourse, and from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. The biggest threat from Zika virus is to a woman’s fetus. The virus can cause severe birth defects such as microcephaly, which is a condition where a baby’s head is smaller than expected. Other problems may include seizures, vision impairments, learning difficulties, problems with eating, and other lifelong conditions.

Prevention

There is not a vaccination available for Zika virus, so avoidance of areas where the virus is present is key. You should also take steps to avoid mosquito bites and use a condom if your partner lives in or travels to areas where Zika virus is present. You can prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying indoors where there is air conditioning, and using EPA-registered bug spray.

Visit www.cdc.gov/zika to stay up to date on the latest information about where the virus is spreading and how to prevent infection.