Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is currently causing a large outbreak primarily in Central and South America. While no locally transmitted cases of Zika have been reported in the continental U.S., cases have been found in returning travelers and these cases could lead to the local spread of the virus in some areas of the U.S.

Only about 1 in 5 people with Zika virus will get symptoms of illness; because of this, many people may not realize they have been infected. If a person does develop symptoms, they’re usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis.

Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Sexual transmission of Zika virus can occur, although there is limited data about the risk. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime; therefore, it is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day.

  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent.
    • Follow product directions and reapply as directed.
    • If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
    • Using an insect repellent is safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats.
  • Avoid woody and brushy areas with high grass, brush, and leaves and standing water.

Pregnant women are most at risk for complications from Zika virus. This is because there is a possible link between pregnant women who get the Zika virus and microcephaly in their babies. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This birth defect can result in seizures, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, among other problems.

Currently no vaccine or medication exists to prevent or treat Zika virus infection. Women who traveled to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission during pregnancy should be evaluated for Zika virus infection and tested in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidance.


Dr. Lav Singh, Infectious Disease
Paris Regional Medical Center