Zika Virus

The Zika virus was first documented in May 2015 in Brazil.  The virus is spread to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito, though transmission via blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.

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Key facts

  • Outbreaks of Zika virus disease are currently occurring in many countries in South America and Central America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates the areas with risk of Zika virus. As of July 3, 2018, 5,710 cases of Zika virus disease have been reported in the continental United States, and 37,255 cases of locally acquired and travel-associated cases have been reported in U.S. territories. 
  • The symptoms of Zika virus include fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. Myalgia and headache can also occur. There have also been cases of Guillain-Barrè syndrome reported in patients with suspected Zika infection.
  • Incubation time is likely a few days to a week and symptoms usually last several days to a week. The virus remains in the blood of an infected person for about one week. 
  • There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus. Supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and using analgesics and antipyretics, is recommended. (Note: Avoid use of aspirin and NSAIDs until dengue is ruled out, due to the risk of hemorrhage.)

CDC Recommendations for Clinicians

  • zika-virus.jpgInformation for healhcare providers from the CDC can be found here. 
  • Ask all pregnant women about recent travel, especially to areas with documented Zika virus transmission.
  • Ask all pregnant women about the presence of symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during or within two weeks of travel.
  • In those with recent travel, be alert for ultrasound findings of fetal microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. If present, testing for Zika virus infection (in consultation with state or local health departments) is indicated.
  • In pregnant women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection, fetal growth and anatomy should be monitored via serial ultrasounds. Referral to a maternal-fetal medicine or infectious disease specialist is recommended.  
  • Further recommendations and tools can be found on the CDC's For Healthcare Providers page
  • The FDA has issued guidance recommending that individuals defer from donating blood if they have been to areas with active Zika virus transmission, or have potentially been exposed to or have a confirmed Zika virus infection. The CDC offers further guidance and resources related to blood donation and blood tranfusion here. , 
Remember: Zika virus disease is a nationally notifiable condition. 
Cases must be reported to state and local health departments, who will then report to the CDC.


Related Reading

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