Zika virus FAQs What is Zika virus? Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus belonging to the Flaviviridae family and is primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, mainly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both mosquitos are found in Georgia, although there has been no local transmission of Zika from mosquitos. However, there is an ongoing risk of the virus being imported to new areas by infected travelers. Zika was first identified in a monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947 and was later identified in humans in 1952. Historically, Zika virus was mainly found in Africa and Southeast Asia. In recent years, it gained global attention due to outbreaks in the Americas, particularly in Brazil, in 2015-2016. From there, the virus spread rapidly to other countries through travelers. For a list of countries and areas where Zika virus is, please see the CDC's web page outlining Areas at Risk for Zika. How is Zika virus spread? Zika virus is most often spread to people by Aedes mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that transmit the chikungunya and dengue viruses. The mosquito becomes infected with Zika virus when it bites a person who has Zika. An infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to other people by biting them. Although rare and unlikely, the virus can also be transmitted from: mother to fetus sexual contact with infected men or women or through a blood transfusion or organ donation. It is essential to talk to your doctor if you believe you have the Zika virus to learn how to prevent transmitting it to others. What are the symptoms of Zika virus? Zika in Healthy and Non-Pregnant Individuals Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus will develop some symptoms. Symptoms usually begin within 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild in healthy adults and may last several days to a week. If you are concerned about your infection, please get in touch with your provider. Zika and Pregnancy The Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has associated Zika with microcephaly, a rare congenital disability, and other severe birth defects. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, learn more on CDC's Zika and Pregnancy link] site and talk to your doctor about to plan a healthy and safe pregnancy. If families would like to speak to someone about a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy and risk to the baby, please contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday-Friday 8am-5pm (local time). To reach MotherToBaby: Call 1-866-626-6847 Chat live or send an email through the MotherToBaby website What is the treatment for Zika virus? There is no specific treatment for Zika virus infection. To help minimize the symptoms, get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take medicines to relieve fever and pain. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) should be avoided until dengue virus is ruled out, as these medications can worsen a dengue infection. Is there a vaccine for Zika virus? There is currently no vaccine to protect humans against Zika virus infection. What should I do if I am considering traveling to an area where Zika virus is being transmitted? Your decision to delay or cancel travel is personal and complex. In making this decision, consider your travel destination and your ability to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Please see your provider for a pre-travel consultation to discuss specific risks. CDC recommends that pregnant women and couples planning a pregnancy within the next three months consult with a health care provider in making this decision. Please refer to the CDC's Zika Travel Information web page for specific travel advisories. How can I get tested for Zika? The CDC last updated the Zika and Dengue Testing Guidance webpage in November 2019. In summary: Zika virus testing is NOT recommended for asymptomatic pregnant women, regardless of recent travel. Symptomatic pregnant women with recent travel to areas with a risk of Zika should be tested for DENGUE AND ZIKA as soon as possible (up to 12 weeks after symptom onset). Symptomatic pregnant women who have had sex with someone who lives or recently traveled to an area with a risk of Zika should be tested for Zika as soon as possible (up to 12 weeks after symptom onset). Pregnant women with concerns of congenital Zika virus after living or traveling to an area with a risk of Zika during the pregnancy should be tested. Symptomatic and asymptomatic non-pregnant individuals should refer to their healthcare providers for questions regarding testing. If you need to be tested, your healthcare provider MUST collect samples and send them to a commercial laboratory. Testing for Zika at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is usually unnecessary, as commercial Zika virus testing is readily available. However, the CDC can coordinate with the Georgia Department of Public Health to test unusual samples, such as amniocentesis specimens, placenta, fetal membranes, and umbilical cords, as requested by a healthcare provider. Where can outbreaks of Zika virus occur? Zika virus outbreaks have been known to occur in various regions worldwide, particularly in tropical and subtropical areas. Some of the regions where Zika virus outbreaks have been reported include: Latin America: Countries in South and Central America, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and others, have experienced significant Zika outbreaks. The Caribbean: Numerous islands in the Caribbean have reported Zika virus transmission, including Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, among others. Southeast Asia: Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have reported cases of Zika virus. Pacific Islands: Outbreaks have occurred in Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Since 2019, no US state has reported local transmission of Zika. All cases have been travel-associated. However, the US (Georgia included) does have mosquitos that can spread the disease. For more information, please see the CDC's site about Zika Travel Information. Can Zika be spread in Georgia? The two mosquitos that can transmit Zika are found in Georgia. Aedes aegypti is considered the primary vector for transmitting the Zika virus. This mosquito can be found in a few areas of Georgia. Aedes albopictus is less likely to transmit Zika but is found all over Georgia. Both species of mosquitos are aggressive bitters that prefer feeding during the daytime. These mosquitoes primarily live near peoples' homes and do not fly far. Both species breed in containers, so removing containers or dumping out any standing water at least once a week, or using larvicides such as mosquito dunks or mosquito torpedoes in water that cannot be dumped out will reduce the number of these mosquitoes around the home. For more information on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites, please see the CDC's web page for Fight the Bite. How many cases of Zika virus are reported in Georgia and the US each year? While Georgia has mosquitos that can transmit the Zika virus, there has never been a locally‐acquired Zika virus from mosquito exposure reported in Georgia. From the years 2018 to 2022, a total of 8 cases of Zika virus were reported in Georgia residents. Number of Zika Cases reported in Georgia Residents, 2018-2022 Year 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Zika Cases 2 6 0 0 0 NOTE: Disease surveillance systems primarily count cases based on the patient's residential location rather than the specific location of exposure. For information on national data and maps, please refer to the CDC's Zika cases in the United States web page. Case Surveillance What is Case Surveillance? (CSTE) [external link] NOTE: Disease surveillance systems primarily count cases based on the patient's residential location rather than the specific location of exposure. How can I protect myself from Zika? To reduce the risk of being infected with the Zika virus, it's essential to take preventive measures, especially if you are in or traveling to areas where Zika outbreaks have been reported. Here are some guidelines to help you prevent Zika virus infection: Use Mosquito Repellents: Apply an EPA-registered mosquito repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Look for products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear Protective Clothing: Cover up with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes, especially during peak mosquito activity times (early morning and late afternoon). Stay in Screened or Air-Conditioned Areas: Use air-conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If necessary, use bed nets when sleeping in areas with inadequate protection. Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Sites: Reduce standing water around your living areas, as Aedes mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Regularly empty, clean, or cover containers that can hold water, such as buckets, flower pots, and tires. Practice Safe Sex: Zika can be sexually transmitted, so use condoms or abstain from sex if you or your partner have recently traveled to Zika-affected areas. Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest information about Zika outbreaks in your area or the places you plan to visit. Follow guidelines and advisories issued by local health authorities. Avoid Traveling to High-Risk Areas: If possible, avoid travel to regions with active Zika virus transmission, especially if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Seek Medical Care: If you develop symptoms of Zika virus infection or believe you may have been exposed to the virus, seek medical attention promptly. Pregnant Women Precautions: Pregnant women should take extra precautions, as Zika virus infection during pregnancy can lead to severe congenital disabilities. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to areas with Zika outbreaks. Remember that these prevention measures protect against Zika virus and help prevent other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Being vigilant and proactive about mosquito bite prevention is crucial in reducing the risk of infection. What should I do if I have recently traveled to a country where Zika virus has been found? If you experience fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash within 12 days of returning home, contact your healthcare provider and inform them of your travel history. Minimize exposure to mosquitoes in the area to prevent disease transmission. When indoors, use air conditioning and ensure there are no holes in screens on windows and doors where mosquitos could get in. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors and use mosquito repellent containing 20‐30% DEET on exposed skin. If you are pregnant, you should contact your physician for additional follow-up, even if you are not feeling sick. Where can I get more information on Zika virus? If you believe you have Zika, please consult your healthcare provider. The CDC maintains a Zika Virus web page with many resources you may find valuable. For information on local Zika or mosquito surveillance, contact your local health district or the Georgia Department of Public Health, Epidemiology Section at 404-657-2588 and ask to speak to the Vectorborne Disease Team.