Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case. Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers.
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly (a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant. Pregnant women in any trimester and women trying to become pregnant should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens and use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors. For further information please visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/