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Zika Virus

What is Zika virus?image: Zika virus

Zika is an infectious disease caused by the Zika virus. Zika virus is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The virus can also be spread through sex with a man or woman who has Zika, or from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection?

Most people infected with Zika virus do not have any symptoms. For those with symptoms, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other commonly reported symptoms include muscle aches and headache. Symptoms can last several days to a week and are typically mild.

Who is most at risk?

Pregnant women traveling to or living in countries or area in the U.S. with reported mosquito-borne Zika virus or have sexual partners who travel to areas with Zika virus are most at risk. Women infected while pregnant are at increased risk of their child being born with severe birth defects. This includes microcephaly and other brain defects. If you are pregnant and you or your partner has traveled to an area with Zika, call your doctor and talk about your risk. 

Which areas are known to have Zika virus?

Zika virus outbreaks are occurring in many countries and in some parts of the U.S. Specific areas where Zika virus is spreading are likely to change over time. Travelers should visit the CDC Travelers’ Health website for the most recent information:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant consider postponing travel to countries where local spread of Zika is occurring. Women who are pregnant and do need to travel to these areas should consult with their healthcare provider. Those who do travel should strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites.

The mosquitos that transmit Zika virus (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus) have been sporadically detected in California, and both mosquitoes were found in parts of Orange County in 2016; however, Zika virus is not circulating in California. Returning travelers from a country with Zika transmission should avoid mosquito bites for the first week of illness to avoid transmitting the virus to others in the community.

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific treatment for Zika. Talk with your health care provider about medications to help reduce fever and pain; rest and fluids are also helpful. Those who do show symptoms usually feel better in about a week.  

How do I protect myself from getting Zika?

There is no vaccine to protect against Zika infection. The most effective way to prevent Zika infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Travelers can take the following precautions:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Products with one of the following active ingredients can help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
      • DEET
      • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin. Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
      • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
      • IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
  • Make sure that the hotel or lodging has air conditioning or doors and windows with tight-fitting screens.

The risk for sexual transmission of Zika virus can be eliminated by abstinence, and reduced by the correct and consistent use of condoms. It is recommended that those with possible Zika virus exposure should consider using condoms or abstaining from sex (6 months for men / 8 weeks for women), regardless of symptom status.

For Health Care Providers

Health care providers who have clinical questions, wish to arrange testing for a patient, or have a suspect case to report, should call the Epidemiology and Assessment Program at 714-834-8180.


For more information on Zika virus: