A person can become infected with the Zika virus when they are bitten by mosquito carrying the virus.
It is mainly spread through mosquitoes.
But, it can also spread through sex, usually after a person traveled to an area where Zika has broken out, got the virus, and gave the virus to a sex partner who did not travel.
Infected women and men can both pass the virus to sex partners even if they haven’t shown symptoms of infection
So far the only locally acquired cases have been confined to Florida’s Miami-Dade county. The rest of the U.S. has seen only travel-associated ones.
Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms (only about 1 in 5) or will only have mild symptoms. They can appear anywhere from 3 to 14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
Symptoms of the Zika Virus include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Muscle pain
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week so its important to get tested right away if you develop symptoms and you live in or have recently traveled to an area with Zika.
This is especially important for pregnant women because the virus can be transmitted to the fetus.
The virus causes birth defects in babies born to some infected pregnant women.
The birth defects caused by the virus include:
- Microcephaly – babies are born with underdeveloped heads.
- Brain damage
- Guillain-Barre syndrome – a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. This one is less common but there have been some linked cases.
Pregnant women and their partners who live in affected areas or must travel to them should avoid mosquito bites.
The CDC has also issued travel warnings for pregnant women in countries where the disease is spreading.
There is no treatment for the virus other than taking over the counter medicines for aches and pains. However, Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided to reduce bleeding risk. An infected person should also get plenty of rest and fluids to prevent dehydration.
If you think you have Zika, get tested immediately so that you can protect your partner, family, friends, and community from getting the virus.
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