Zika Virus Disease

How is Zika Transmitted?

Zika Virus is primarily spread to people through the bites of an infected mosquito (Aedes species), which are the same mosquitos that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Zika virus may spread from infected mother to child either at time of birth or to the fetus during pregnancy. There are currently no reports of spread through breastfeeding. The virus may also be spread through sexual contact by a male to his partner, and lastly through blood transfusions although there have not been any confirmed cases in the United States.

What are the symptoms and possible effects?

The symptoms of Zika virus either don’t exist or are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain, and headache. The symptoms are rarely severe enough to cause hospitalization or death and often, people do not even know they have been infected. The virus remains i the blood for approximately one week, but can last longer in some people. The Zika virus has bee linked with a birth defect called microcephaly, where they baby’s head is smaller than normal size, which may also impede brain development. Other problems among fetuses include absent or poorly developed brain structures, eye defects, hearing impairment, and growth impairment.

How can I protect others and myself from the Zika virus?

Prevent Zika virus infection by avoiding mosquito bites when in known areas with Zika virus (refer to the Center for Disease Control for a list of locations). Wear long sleeves and pants, remain in places with air conditioning and screen protectors, sleep under a mosquito net, and apply insect repellant as directed. If you are infected, avoid more mosquito bites so that you do not spread the virus to uninfected mosquitos. If either you or your partner is infected, use condoms correctly to avoid transmission. Finally, based on current evidence, the CDC believes that infection in a woman who is not currently pregnant would not pose a risk for future pregnancy after the virus has cleared. Once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely protected from future infections.


-Anastasia Ipatova

Duquesne University

Mylan School of Pharmacy


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika Virus., 2016. Atlanta, GA: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2016.