Health Dept.: Learn the signs, how to protect yourself from Zika virus

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites of the Aedes species. These mosquitoes bite both during the day and during the night.

Right now, there are no known cases of Zika in the United States. Zika mostly affects women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant.


The Zika virus can be spread through mosquito bites, an infected pregnant mom passing the infection to her unborn baby, through a blood transfusion from an infected person, and through sex with an infected person. A diagnosis of Zika can be determined through a blood test, a urine test, or upon review of travel history.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Rash.
  • Headache.
  • Joint pain.
  • Red eyes.
  • Muscle pains.

Symptoms can last for a couple of days and up to a week. Individuals diagnosed with Zika have either have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

Individuals do not get sick enough to go to the hospital and there are hardly ever any deaths from the Zika virus. If you think you have symptoms of Zika or have traveled to an area with Zika, contact your doctor.

There is no vaccine to stop Zika. Treatment of Zika consists of getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, and taking medicine to lessen both fever and pain. There is no specific medication for Zika.

Protect yourself by:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellant.
  • Using mosquito netting to cover up babies younger than two months old, do not use insect repellant.
  • Practicing safe sex.
  • Not travelling to areas with Zika when pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
  • Staying in places with air conditioning and window screens.

Pregnant women infected with Zika can pass the virus to their babies. The virus can cause severe birth defects to the baby, including microcephaly (small brain) and other brain defects.

The Zika virus has been associated with miscarriages, still births, and Guillian-Barre syndrome. Before traveling, pregnant women or those who are trying to become pregnant should talk with their doctor about their risk of Zika.

If you are caring for someone who has Zika, remember these steps to protect yourself:

  • Do not touch blood or body fluids of the infected person with exposed skin.
  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after care.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothes if they get blood or body fluids on them.
  • Clean the sick person’s environment daily.

For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/zika.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun