Zika Virus

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that vector Zika are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These are the same mosquitoes that spread viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Mosquitoes become infected with Zika when they feed on a person that is already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. Zika virus can be sexually transmitted from one human to another. Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently in the Americas. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to spread. 

For the latest information on Zika in the U.S.: CDC: Zika Virus in the United States

Alabama Residents Tested for Zika Virus as of November 13, 2018

Date

Number of Investigations

Positive Test Results*

2018

127

4

Since Jan 2016

808

49

*Positive test results include Zika virus or Flavivirus unspecified.  

About Zika Infection

Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. There is a strong possibility that Zika virus can be spread through blood transfusions. A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

The Alabama Department of Public Health advises pregnant women to consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is being transmitted, including areas in South and Central America, as well as the American territories, including Puerto Rico. Infection with the Zika virus causes only mild symptoms in the majority of the cases, but an apparent link to serious birth defects and other pregnancy-related poor outcomes has been associated with infection during pregnancy. Out of an abundance of precaution, the ADPH is recommending that health care providers advise their patients who are pregnant about the risk of travel to these areas. More information from the CDC can be found here: Zika and Birth Defects

Zika can be passed through sex, even if the infected person does not have symptoms. Both males and females can pass it to sex partners. Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and the sharing of sex toys. Couples with a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with active Zika transmission should use condoms (or other barrier methods to protect against infection).

These are the current recommendations for couples who have returned from an area with active Zika transmission, whether or not symptoms of Zika infection were present:

  • If the partner traveling was female, use barrier methods or abstain from sex for at least 8 weeks after returning.
  • If the partner traveling was male, use barrier methods or abstain from sex for at least 6 months after returning.
  • If the partner who traveled has a pregnant partner, barrier protection should be used or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

Symptoms of Zika

  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
  • The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.

Treatment

  • There is no vaccine for Zika
  • There are no specific antiviral medications.

Suggested Treatment for symptoms of Zika include:

  • Get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated.
  • Take acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol®) for fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until a dengue infection can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
  • Fatalities caused by Zika are rare.
  • If you or your family member develop the symptoms of Zika contact your healthcare provider.

For more information on caring for a person with Zika: CDC Zika Treatment

Prevent Zika Infection

The best preventive measure for residents living in areas infested with Ae. aegypti or Aedes albopictus is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water. These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. Items that collect rainwater or to store water (for example, plastic containers, 55-gallon drums, buckets, or used automobile tires) should be covered or properly discarded. Pet and animal watering containers and vases with fresh flowers should be emptied and cleaned (to remove eggs) at least once a week. This will eliminate the mosquito eggs and larvae and reduce the number of mosquitoes present in these areas. For more ways to eliminate breeding sites around your home, visit the Vector Control page.

Using air conditioning or window and door screens reduces the risk of mosquitoes coming indoors. These Aedes mosquitos are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Proper application of mosquito repellents on exposed skin and proper clothing decreases the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes Avoid the Bite Page. To learn more about insect repellents, visit this Environmental Protection Agency website: Insect Repellent Information from the EPA

Detect, Test, and Report

Zika is in a family of viruses called flaviviruses that includes dengue, and both share similar clinical presentations and geographic spread. When exposed, individuals test preliminarily positive for both of these flaviviruses and the confirmatory test (plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT)) is not able to distinguish which flavivirus is causing the current infection, the test is interpreted as recent flavivirus, unspecified. Based on the epidemiological evidence, individuals with unspecified flaviviruses, positive by PRNT for dengue and Zika, are classified as Zika cases for surveillance purposes, if compatible clinical features and/or exposure(s) are present.

Testing should be performed on anyone who has a travel history to an infected area and is symptomatic. In addition, providers are asked to evaluate all pregnant women with a history of travel to countries with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy regardless of whether symptomatic or not. Because of the similar geographic distribution and clinical presentation of Zika, patients with symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya virus infection.

Alabama physicians are asked to complete an online consultation form for ALL suspect Zika patients to request approval for Zika virus testing. Go to our  Healthcare Providers page for more information and guidance. The submitted consultation form will be reviewed and answered within 24 hours or the next business day. All specimens submitted for testing must be approved by ADPH prior to submission. Any provider with a suspect Zika patient suffering a fetal loss or with a suspect Zika patient giving birth are asked to call the Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks Division at 1-800-338-8374 prior to submitting the online consultation form.

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See also: Bite Prevention and Vector Control





Page last updated: November 13, 2018