Frequently Asked Questions on Zika Virus Disease

What is Zika Virus disease (Zika)?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

What are the symptoms of Zika?
About one in five people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected with Zika virus.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by a mosquito infected with Zika virus..

How is Zika transmitted?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We cannot determine how often (the rate) Zika being transmitted from mothers to their babies during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is present and who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.

What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?
The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.  
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent every few hours.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • If you have a baby or child: 
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

What is the treatment for Zika?
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.
Treat the symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

How is Zika diagnosed?

  • See your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes). If you have recently travelled, tell your healthcare providers when you have a visit them.
  • A healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viral diseases like Dengue Fever or Chikungunya.

What should I do if I have Zika?
Treat the symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.

See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you travelled.

Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?
No. There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika.

Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. 

Does Zika virus infection cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)?
Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder where a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes, paralysis. These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. While most people fully recover from GBS, some people have permanent damage and in rare cases, some people have died.

The Brazil Ministry of Health is currently reporting an increase in GBS cases that have occurred at the same time as their outbreak of Zika virus, and similar increases in GBS have been reported following past outbreaks of Zika in other countries. The Centre for Disease Control is conducting a study in Brazil to determine if any relationship exists between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. To date this relationship has not been determined conclusively.

Is this a new virus?
Zika is not a new virus. Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

 

Ministry Officials

  • Sen. Hon. Mary Isaac / Minister
  • Cyprian Felix St. Hill / Permanent Secretary
  • Verena Claudia Calderon / Deputy Permanent Secretary