Even if you don’t know you’re infected, mosquitoes that bite you could pass the virus to others. Mosquitoes pick up certain viruses, such as Zika, from biting a human who has an infection. The mosquito takes in the virus from the human’s blood. After about 7-10 days, the mosquito may pass the Zika virus to other humans when biting them. Most Texas cases of Zika relate to travel . People bitten by an infected mosquito while traveling to areas where Zika is being spread typically get diagnosed after returning home.
Zika can also pass through blood transfusion, sexual contact, and from pregnant mother to unborn child.
Most people infected with the virus have mild or no symptoms. If a person does show symptoms they are usually mild and last several days to a week. Common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
If you think you have Zika, you need to contact your healthcare provider
and take precautions to prevent infecting others.
The Zika virus may also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome , a condition in which your immune system attacks part of your nervous system. An outbreak in French Polynesia in 2014 caused an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Research links the Zika virus to birth defects like microcephaly , a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected and can cause developmental delays. An outbreak in Brazil in 2015 caused an increase in microcephaly.
Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and fatalities are rare.
What if I think I have Zika?
Visit your doctor if you have the symptoms above and have visited areas affected by Zika . The doctor may order blood tests to look for Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue or chikungunya. Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus.
If you do have Zika:
- Follow the steps provided by your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen, to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Talk to your doctor before taking additional medication.
- Follow precautions to avoid spreading the infection to others.
During the first week of infection, the Zika virus can be in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. Use EPA-approved insect repellent to avoid bites and take precautions against sexual transmission .
last updated May 31, 2018