Zika Virus: Signs, Symptoms & Prevention

The Zika virus is a virus spread by mosquitos. Signs and symptoms of infection are mild and usually appear within 3-12 days of the initial infection. If you have traveled to an area known to have the Zika virus, tell your doctor if you experience two or more symptoms, including acute onset of fever, a skin rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks of traveling.

The Zika virus has recently become a concern due to an outbreak in Brazil thought to be associated with an increase in birth defects such as decreased head circumference and other pregnancy complications. Although this association has not been fully validated, the possibility of risk to pregnant women lead the CDC to advise that all pregnant women delay travel to areas where Zika virus outbreaks are present.  If women who are pregnant travel to these areas, they should take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The best way to do this is to make sure all exposed skin stays covered, staying in screened or air conditioned areas, and using permethrin treated clothing. This is important to do during all hours of the day and night. When used as directed, the EPA-registered insect repellents including DEET, picaridin, permethrin and IR3535 are safe for use by pregnant women. 

Tell your doctor if you have traveled to an area with the Zika virus. If you experience two or more symptoms, a blood test may be used to determine if you have been infected. If you do not experience symptoms, your doctor may still recommend an ultrasound to evaluate fetal anatomy but you may not need the blood test. If you are found to have the Zika virus, you may be referred to a maternal fetal medicine specialist for further monitoring, including an amniocentesis, or testing of the amniotic fluid.

To find out if an area has the Zika virus and to find out more information about the virus you may visit the CDC www.cdc.gov/zika

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