The virus is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites. Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have also been reported. Health care providers should be aware of the following:
- The Zika virus should be considered in patients who traveled to areas with ongoing transmission in the two weeks prior to the onset of illness.
- The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and last several days to a week.
- Health care providers are encouraged to report suspected cases to their state or local health department to facilitate diagnosis and to mitigate the risk of local transmission.
- No specific antiviral treatment is available for the Zika virus. Treatment can include rest, fluids, and use of analgesics and antipyretics. Acetaminophen can help reduce fever and pain, and aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided. Pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen.
- No vaccine or preventive drug is available. The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to avoid mosquito bites.
- Pregnant women are most at risk for complications from the Zika virus. The CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant. It’s possible for the Zika virus to be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
Sources: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and New York State Department of Health