Frequently Asked Questions
What is the history of Zika virus and the recent Zika outbreak?
You can learn more about the history of Zika virus here.
The CDC continues to post Zika virus updates. They have also issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Learn more about updates here.
How is Zika virus spread?
Zika virus is most commonly spread to people through mosquito bites. A pregnant woman recently infected with Zika virus may transmit the virus to her fetus during pregnancy. There have also been limited cases of transmission through sexual contact.
What are symptoms of Zika virus?
Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika virus. Once a person has been infected with Zika virus, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Why is Zika virus a health risk for some people?
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. Other problems noted in infants infected with Zika virus before birth include developmental, vision, hearing, and growth problems. Among non-pregnant individuals, there have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika virus.
Is there a vaccine or treatment for Zika virus?
No treatment or vaccine currently exists for Zika virus.
Testing pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure is a public health priority because the virus can cause brain defects like microcephaly, eye problems, hearing deficits and impaired growth in fetuses. Click here to learn more about protecting yourself from Zika virus if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
What should I do if I think I have Zika?
If you have symptoms of Zika virus infection and have been to an affected area in the past two weeks, contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may test your blood for Zika virus and other similar mosquito‐borne illnesses.
Has Zika virus been spread locally in Virginia?
To date, there have been no reported cases of individuals who contracted the virus locally in Virginia. However, individuals who contract Zika virus in another area may unknowingly bring the virus home with them.
How can I prevent Zika virus transmission in our community if I (or someone I know) has travelled to an area with Zika virus?
- Before/during travel:
- Upon Return:
- Avoid local mosquito bites for 3 weeks
- Stay indoors as much as possible and use air conditioning when available
- Cover up by wearing long pants, long sleeves and socks
- Check your property for mosquitoes and mosquito breeding areas
- Tip and toss standing water (e.g. water in pet water bowls, garden pots, trash can lids)
- Men should use condoms properly during vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity or abstain from sex for 6 months after return
- Women should use condoms properly during vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity or abstain from sex for at least 8 weeks after return
Where can I learn more about Zika virus?