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Zika virus information

What is Zika virus?

Zika virus is a virus that is infecting people in many areas, including:

  • South America.
  • Central America.
  • Mexico.
  • The Caribbean.
  • Puerto Rico.

Anyone who has traveled to or will be traveling to the countries where Zika virus is transmitted should know the signs and symptoms of this virus.

How is Zika virus spread?

Zika virus is mostly spread to people by mosquito bites. It can also be spread from a pregnant mother to her baby. Although rare, Zika has been shown to be spread by a man to his sex partners. In other countries, there are reports that Zika has been spread through blood transfusions.

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika is not known, but is likely to be from a few days to a week.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Zika are:

  • Fever.
  • Rash.
  • Joint pain.
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.

How long do symptoms last?

Symptoms usually last a few days to 1 week.

I’m pregnant. How will Zika virus affect my baby?

Serious birth defects have been reported in babies born to women who were infected with Zika virus during pregnancy. But more studies are needed to figure out how Zika virus affects babies during pregnancy.

What can I do to prevent getting Zika virus?

Since Zika virus is mostly spread by mosquito bites, avoiding mosquitoes is the best way to protect yourself. Some ways to avoid mosquito bites are:

  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear clothing that completely covers your body, like long sleeves and pants.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes can breed, like puddles or containers that hold water.

Until more is known, pregnant women with male sex partners who have lived in or traveled to an area with the Zika virus should either use a condom every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly from start to finish, every time, during sex. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women do not travel to areas where Zika virus is actively being transmitted. For the most up-to-date information about where Zika virus is actively being transmitted, visit the CDC’s Travel Advisory page.

Women who are planning to get pregnant should talk with their primary care providers (PCPs) or OB/GYNs about any travel plans to areas where Zika virus is actively being transmitted.

If you do travel to an area where Zika virus is actively being transmitted, talk with your PCP or OB/GYN about ways you can prevent getting Zika virus.

Is there medicine to treat Zika virus?

No. There is no medicine to treat Zika virus. You may be able to take medicine to help with the symptoms of Zika virus. Talk with your PCP about what medicine is best for you.

What should I do if I think I may have Zika virus?

Go to your PCP or OB/GYN. He or she can help treat your symptoms. If you have a question about your health and your PCP is not available, call the First Choice Nurse Call Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-632-0009.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

Talk to your PCP for any questions about your health.

If you are pregnant, you can also call Bright Start®, the First Choice maternity program, at 1-888-913-0327, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date information about Zika virus.