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Zika Virus Disease is caused by a virus that is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika Virus Disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

If Zika virus causes mild symptoms, why is it in the news so much?

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. Pregnant women can pass the virus to their developing babies. Transmission has not been reported with breast feeding. Zika virus can also be transmitted by sex.

Can I get Zika virus in the US?
Not at this time. No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the US, but there have been travel-associated cases. Zika virus infection has been documented throughout South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.

If I am traveling to an area where Zika virus infection is occurring, what precautions can I take?
01. If you are pregnant, you should avoid traveling to areas where Zika virus infection is prevalent. This information can be found on the CDC website: www.cdc.org.

02. Take steps to prevent mosquito bites:
Stay indoors as much as possible, preferably in an air conditioned room with screens over windows and doors.
Use a mosquito net while sleeping.
When outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants if possible.
Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picardin, or lemon eucalytus oil. Clothes can be treated with permetherin.

03. Do not have sex with anyone who has a fever or other symptoms of Zika virus.

04. Use condoms during sex.

05. Pregnant women with partners who have traveled to high-risk Zika areas should not have sex or use condoms, even if their partners do not have symptoms.

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Shobhit Arora