Short Answers to Hard
Questions About Zika Virus
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. and CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS UPDATED January 28, 2016
The World Health Organization has warned that the Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and that as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing.
- About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
- The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.
- Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
- Deaths are rare.
The infection appears to be linked to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns.
Some pregnant women who have been to these regions should be tested for the infection, the agency said. Here are some answers and advice about the outbreak.
- What is the Zika virus?
- How is the virus spread?
- How might Zika cause brain damage in infants?
- What is microcephaly?
- What countries should pregnant women avoid?
- How do I know if I’ve been infected? Is there a test?
- I’m pregnant and I recently visited a country with Zika virus. What do I do?
- ZIKA Virus Resource Center
- ANSWERS FROM CDC
- Link to NYT article