What is Zika virus?
Zika is a virus (germ) spread by certain kinds of mosquitoes. Most people (80%) who are exposed to Zika virus will not get sick. If they do get sick, symptoms usually start 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, if infection occurs when a woman is pregnant, the infection can sometimes spread to the developing fetus.
How is Zika spread?
Zika virus is usually spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can also be spread between sex partners during unprotected sexual contact and from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. There is also concern that Zika virus could be transmitted through blood transfusion from an infected donor. Virus has also been found in breast milk, urine and saliva but transmission potential from these sources is still being investigated.
Can I get Zika virus from mosquitoes in Massachusetts?
It is extremely unlikely that anyone could become infected with Zika virus from a mosquito bite in Massachusetts. The kinds of mosquitoes that are known to carry Zika virus are generally not found in Massachusetts.
However, travelers to areas with a Zika virus outbreak may be bitten by infected mosquitoes during their trip and some of these travelers are being diagnosed with Zika virus disease when they return to the United States.
What is the risk from Zika virus infection if I am pregnant?
In pregnant women who become infected with Zika virus, it is possible for the virus to spread to the developing fetus. When this happens, it can result in birth defects, including abnormal brain and head development (microcephaly). If you are pregnant, and you or your sex partner have traveled to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission, you should discuss testing with your doctor or other healthcare provider. Zika virus testing of pregnant women is available at the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory.
What is the risk from Zika virus infection if I am not a pregnant woman?
Most people (80%) who are exposed to Zika virus will not get sick. If they do get sick, symptoms usually start 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). There have been reports of some immune system disorders, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, following Zika virus infection; this happens rarely and can also happen following other types of infections.
Am I at risk for Zika virus?
At this time, only people traveling to places with Zika virus outbreaks or engaging in sexual activity with someone who has traveled to these places are at risk for getting the infection. If you or your partner is planning on traveling, you should check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information about where Zika virus is occurring.