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Zika Virus

Image of Aedes Mosquito.

Facts About Zika

What is Zika virus?

Zika virus is a Flavivirus that was first discovered in rhesus monkeys in 1947 in Africa, and first detected in humans in 1952. Since then outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Get more information about the Zika virus.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

Zika virus only causes illness in about 20 percent of people infected. The symptoms are typically mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). For these reasons, many people do not realize they were infected with the virus. Get more information about symptoms of Zika virus.

What are the complications from Zika virus?

  • Birth defects. Health officials are investigating a link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and an increased risk for birth defects such as microcephaly. More information about complications from Zika virus.

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system that has been linked to some Zika virus cases.

How is Zika virus spread?

Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites. The virus is carried by the Aedes species mosquito (A. aegypti and A. albopictus).

Zika virus can also be transmitted:

  • From a man to his partner during sexual contact
  • From a pregnant woman to her fetus
  • From a blood transfusion
  • Theoretically, from organ transplant

More information on the transmission of Zika virus.

Where is Zika virus?

Zika virus has been found in countries in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Learn more about areas with Zika virus.

Although no states in the continental US have identified any Zika virus cases that are the result of a bite from a local mosquito, there have been travel-associated cases in the US. For up-to-date Zika virus counts in the US, visit Zika in the United States.

Maryland has identified cases of Zika virus among its residents who caught the illness while traveling.

For up-to-date Zika virus case counts in Maryland, visit the Maryland Department of Health.

Information for Providers

If you treating a pregnant woman who you suspect may have been exposed to Zika virus (either from travel to an affected area or from sexual contact with someone who had traveled to an affected area), contact the Baltimore County Department of Health at 410-887-6011.

If you are treating a patient who has symptoms of Zika virus and has either recently returned from an affected area or recently had sexual contact with someone who had traveled to an affected area, contact the Baltimore County Department of Health at 410-887-6011.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

View recommendations made by the CDC for women and their partners who are trying to get pregnant and may have been exposed to Zika virus either from living abroad, travel or sexual exposure.

View a visual aid on Zika virus, pregnancy and travel.

There have been no reports of Zika virus being transmitted through breast milk. According to the CDC, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the theoretical risks of Zika virus transmission through breast milk. Therefore, the CDC is encouraging mothers with Zika virus to breastfeed their infants.

Additional information, including details about the Zika Pregnancy Registry can be found on the CDC website.

Information for Travelers

Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes so protect yourself from mosquito bites while in the affected country. It can also be spread through sexual contact so always use a condom.

When you return to the US from the affected country, protect yourself from mosquito bites for three weeks to prevent local mosquitoes from catching the virus from you and spreading it to others. Find out if the country you are planning to travel to has been affected by Zika

View a visual aid on Zika virus and travel.

Mosquito Prevention

Protect you and your family from mosquitoes in the United States

Mosquito bite prevention includes the use of insect repellent, wearing clothing that covers the body, keeping mosquitoes outside of the home, and destroying pools of water that act as mosquito breeding sites. View visual aids on controlling mosquito populations and mosquito bite prevention.

Protect you and your family from mosquitoes while traveling abroad

Mosquito bite prevention while traveling abroad includes the use of insect repellent, wearing clothing that covers the body, and keeping mosquitoes outside of your hotel room or lodging.

View visual aid on mosquito bite prevention for travelers.

Zika Presentation and Speaker Requests

If you have a community organization that would be interested in having a representative from the Department of Health give an educational presentation about Zika virus, please call 410-887-6011. 

 
Revised July 3, 2017         

 

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