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What is the Zika Virus?

Zika virus is similar to dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Carried by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, Zika is largely transmitted through bites, but can also occur through intrauterine infection.

If a woman is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes infected, Zika can cross into the placenta and affect the fetus. While anyone can contract Zika, pregnant women are the most at risk due to the potential for fetal microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities. Sexual transmission of this virus can occur. Transmission has been reported from infected men and women to their sexual partners. The virus can be transmitted through anal, oral or vaginal sex.

Symptoms of this virus are generally mild, with fever, rash and joint pain present. Most people who develop the virus do not have symptoms.

For more detailed information about the Zika virus, including symptoms, diagnosis and prevention, visit the Johns Hopkins Health Library.


What is the Zika Virus?

Experts at The Johns Hopkins Hospital are closely monitoring the spread of Zika virus and offering useful information to help prevent transmission of the mosquito-borne illness. Infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Maragakis discusses the virus, concerns around pregnancy and the current state of vaccines.

How to Protect Yourself from Zika Virus

Zika virus has become a public health concern, so how can you protect yourself from the mosquito-borne illness? Dr. Crystal Ugochi Aguh offers tips to prevent mosquito bites when in warmer climates.


Key Facts About Zika Virus

  • Zika virus was first reported in Uganda in 1947, but a Zika virus outbreak was not reported in the Americas until 2015.
  • Symptoms of Zika are mostly mild, with only one in five infected individuals exhibiting any signs of illness. Hospitalization is rare with this infection.
  • Zika can be diagnosed through a blood test.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps an updated list of countries where Zika outbreaks have occurred. Pregnant women should speak to their obstetrician-gynecologist if they must travel to an affected area, as well as take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
  • There is currently no vaccine or antiviral treatment for Zika.

Additional Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly updates travel advisories for Zika virus, as well as preventive guidelines.

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