What is Zika?
Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that was first discovered in Africa. Outbreaks have occurred in other areas since then. However Zika is not an established disease in California and there has been no local transmission thus far. Reports of Zika in California have only been among travelers who have visited areas with ongoing Zika transmission.
How Does Zika Spread?
Zika can be transmitted
- Through mosquito bites
- Through sex
- From a pregnant woman to her fetus
Infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes transmit Zika virus among people. These mosquitoes bite during both the day and night. While these mosquitoes are not native to California, they have been detected in several counties in California since 2011.
Zika can be transmitted through sex from a person with Zika to his or her partner. It can spread regardless of whether the infected person develops symptoms. For those who develop symptoms, Zika can spread before symptoms begin, while symptomatic, and even after symptoms resolve.
Zika can be transmitted during pregnancy from a pregnant mother to her fetus. Transmission during pregnancy can cause birth defects, including microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. A pregnant woman who has traveled to, had sex with a partner returning from, or develops symptoms after traveling to an area with risk of Zika transmission should speak with her doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of Zika?
Most people infected with Zika virus will not develop any symptoms or only have mild symptoms, including fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and/or muscle pain. Symptoms can last for several days to a week.
How is Zika Treated?
There is no specific treatment for Zika. Symptoms can be eased through rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking medicine to reduce fever and pain, such as acetaminophen. Aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should not be taken.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of Being Infected with Zika?
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika.
Protect yourself by
- Preventing mosquito bites, such as by wearing long sleeves and long pants, using insect repellant, and using window screens
- Preventing sexual transmission by using condoms or not having sex after returning from an area with risk of Zika transmission or if exhibiting symptoms (at least 6 months for returning male partners or males with symptoms and 8 weeks for returning female partners or females with symptoms)
Pregnant women should avoid traveling to areas with risk of Zika transmission.
Sources: CDC, CDPH