What is the Zika virus?
Zika virus disease (Zika) is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The Zika virus originates in the Caribbean, South America, Central America, and Africa. Only 1 in 5 people infected with the virus will show physical symptoms. People who are infected may experience fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The Department of Health keeps track of confirmed Zika cases within Washington State.
Zika Virus in Washington
Washington State does not have the type of mosquitoes (Aedes aegyptiand Aedes albopictus) that carry Zika virus. CDC map shows estimated range for the mosquito species that carry the virus.There is currently no risk for local transmission through mosquitoes. However, people who travel to and from areas where Zika is spreading can return with Zika illness. People who have returned from Zika-affected areas that are pregnant or having symptoms of Zika illness should contact their healthcare provider.
How is Zika spread?
- Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. CDC Zika transmission information
- Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or birth. CDC Q&A: Zika virus and pregnancy
- CDC reported possible spread of Zika virus through infected blood or sexual contact. CDC Q&A: Zika virus and Sexual Transmission
- To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even if they have traveled to an area where Zika virus is being transmitted.
What are the risks?
Symptoms of Zika are generally mild and include fever, rash, joint pain and redness of the eyes. Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Many people who get Zika have no symptoms at all. There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika. The recommended treatment is to hydrate, rest, and take acetaminophen to alleviate symptoms.
Zika infection is a very serious concern for pregnant women because of its link with a birth defect in newborns called microcephaly, an abnormally small brain and skull, and other poor pregnancy outcomes. Zika is also linked to Guillan-Barré Syndrome, a problem marked by muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.
How can I prevent Zika virus when traveling?
Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites when traveling to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission. Visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for updated information and travel alerts. CDC Zika prevention information
No vaccine or medication is currently available to treat the virus. The best way to prevent the virus is to protect against mosquito bites. Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika is spreading. Pregnant women, or those 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 the steps below during the trip:
- Apply EPA-registered insect repellants (homemade repellants may not offer protection)
- Wear long sleeve shirts, pants, and closed toed shoes
- Use bed nets
- Avoid wearing perfume
- Wear Permethrin-treated clothing
The Zika Virus can be spread from a man to his sex partners. The correct use of condoms can prevent transmission. Condoms should be used every time you have sex if you or your partner are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant.