Zika virus is a virus spread to people through mosquito bites of Aedes species mosquitos. Aedes mosquitoes also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus is not currently found in the continental United States.
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. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
In May 2015, Zika virus was identified in Brazil and has resulted in a large outbreak in that country. There have been reports in Brazil of pregnant women with poor pregnancy outcomes, including giving birth to babies with a condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. In response, CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. There have also been reports of a potential association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can affect children and adults.
Zika virus transmission has not been identified in the continental United States, however, Zika virus infections have been identified in residents of the United States who have traveled to countries with ongoing transmission.
Countries with Zika virus transmission
Resources for clinicians
It is important to control mosquito populations as they are important vectors for disease. The best way to prevent transmission of vector-borne disease in your community is through mosquito control and prevention. Mosquitoes have two stages in their life cycle, larval and adult, and require water to complete their development. It is important to monitor standing water sources around your home.
Please pay special care to:
- Getting rid of standing water in old tires, wheelbarrows, buckets, plastic bags and covers, toys and other containers that hold water.
- Clean gutters, at least yearly, to prevent a buildup of debris and standing water.
- Empty and change birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week to eliminate mosquito habitat.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling and garbage containers kept outdoors.
- Drain temporary pools of water in the ground or fill in with dirt.
- Apply screens to outdoor corrugated piping to exclude breeding adults.
- Keep swimming pools treated and circulating with water.
Trim densely vegetated areas to improve airflow and discourage resting adults.
In addition to decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes around your home, you can also take steps to reduce your exposure to them. Make sure to use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when outdoors and follow the label directions and precautions closely. To help select the best repellant for your needs, visit this link:
Make sure to tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin. You can also replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights. Make sure to cover all gaps in walls, doors and windows in your home to prevent mosquitoes from entering. To protect young children, completely cover their carriers and bedding with netting.