EMP Health Watch
About Zika Virus Disease
Zika virus disease is caused by a virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people may not realize they have been infected.
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. While local transmission of the virus has been reported in many other countries, no local mosquito borne Zika virus cases have been reported in the United States, however there have been travel associated cases.
There are ways you can prevent mosquito bites and further reduce your risk of contracting Zika when traveling:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning, or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Always follow the product label instructions and reapply insect repellent as directed.
- If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Do not use insect repellent on children younger than 2 months of age.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, and cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth and cut or irritated skin. Adults should spray insect repellent onto their hands and then apply to a child's face.
Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks, so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes. Specific areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission is difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. Before traveling, please visit the CDC Traveler's Health site at www.cdc.gov/travel for the most updated travel information on Zika.