Most people infected with Zika virus have few or no symptoms. If a person does have symptoms, they are usually mild and last several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and fatalities are rare.
Common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Rash (often itchy)
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 spread Zika virus to other humans when biting them.
Conditions Linked to Zika
Zika infection during pregnancy can lead to birth defects like microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected, as well as other brain defects and developmental delays. An increase in microcephaly was noted during an outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil in 2015.
Zika virus may also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which your immune system attacks part of your nervous system. An increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome was noted during an outbreak of Zika virus in French Polynesia in 2014.
What if I think I have Zika?
Visit your doctor if you
- have the symptoms above, or
- are pregnant, regardless of symptoms, and
- live in or have visited areas affected by Zika, or
- have a sexual partner who lives in or has traveled to an affected area.
Your doctor may order blood and urine tests to look for Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue or chikungunya. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika virus.
If you think you have Zika, contact your doctor and take precautions
to prevent infecting others.
If you do have Zika:
- Follow your doctor's advice.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen, to reduce fever and pain.
- Follow precautions to avoid spreading the infection to others.
- Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- Do not take additional medication before talking to your doctor.
- Do not have unprotected sex. Use barrier contraceptive methods consistently and correctly or abstain from sex.