Recharge Medical Blog

Recharge Medical
Philippe T. Nguyen

Philippe T. Nguyen, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Zika Fast Facts

closeup of a mosquito on skin

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus spread primarily by a genus of mosquitoes called Aedes but also through pregnancy, sexual contact, and blood transfusion. It was first isolated in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947. The current outbreak of Zika began in early 2015.

Why is it a problem?

When spread from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus it can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. The illness cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines. In adults, Zika may result rarely in Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Who is at risk?

  • Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is active is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.

  • Sexual partners of infected persons may also be at risk of being infected.

Where is it found?

The current outbreak has been reported primarily in countries or territories in North America and South America and Oceania/Pacific Islands. Notable numbers of United States cases have been reported in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Florida, and American Samoa. Details: All Countries & Territories with Active Zika Virus Transmission.

As of October 21, 2016, there have been 25 confirmed cases of Zika virus in San Francisco, all contracted while traveling. Zika virus is not currently circulating in San Francisco, the Bay Area, or California, and the mosquito that spreads Zika has not been found in San Francisco.

What are the symptoms?

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms for up to a week. Common ones include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Details: Symptoms.

How do I avoid getting it?

  • Avoid traveling to areas active with Zika, particularly if you are pregnant.

  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. For example:

    • Use EPA-registered insect repellent. It works!

    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

    • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.

    • Remove standing water around your home.

  • If you are sexually active, male or female condoms used correctly and consistently can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex with an infected person. Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex with an infected person. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week.

More info

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