About Zika Virus

Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. 

To better protect yourself and your family, here are the top five things everyone should know about Zika virus:

1. Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquitoes. You can also get Zika through sex.
Many areas in the United States, including Shelby County, have the type of mosquitoes that can spread Zika virus. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and can also bite at night. Also, Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. 

2. The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. 
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellent containing DEET
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens
  • Remove standing water around your home

3. Zika is linked to birth defects.
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly that is a sign of incomplete brain development. Doctors have also found other problems in pregnancies and among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth. If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, do not have sex, or use condoms the right way, every time, during your pregnancy.

4. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika.
If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

5. Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.
During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in a person's blood and can pass from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. Couples with a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika should take steps to protect themselves during sex.