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Zika Virus

Updated Oct. 19, 2016

What is Zika virus?
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
How is Zika virus spread?
How can I keep from getting Zika virus?
If I’ve been exposed to Zika virus, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for Zika virus? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of Zika virus have been reported in Kentucky?
Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
Should we be concerned about Zika in Northern Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on Zika virus?

What is Zika virus?
Zika is a disease caused by a virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are:

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild, and lasts for several days to a week. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Those who are ill are usually not sick enough to go to the hospital, and death from Zika is rare.

How is Zika virus spread?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

There is evidence that Zika is transmitted through sexual contact as well. Individuals who have traveled to areas where Zika virus has been found are advised to either use condoms or abstain from sex, and should consult with a health care provider about specific recommendations and timeframes.

How can I keep from getting Zika virus?
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:

For additional assistance in preventing mosquito bites, please call the Health Department at 859.341.4151.

If I’ve been exposed to Zika virus, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days.

How do I know if I have Zika virus?

What treatments are available for Zika virus? How serious is the disease?
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

To treat the symptoms:

Protect others: During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another person through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.

See your health care provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within three weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.

How many cases of Zika virus have been reported in Kentucky?
Northern Kentucky case counts can be found here.

Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

More on Zika and pregnancy

Should we be concerned about Zika in Northern Kentucky?
There is no evidence to date that the Zika virus is present in mosquitoes in Kentucky. The species of mosquitoes that carries Zika is not present in large numbers locally. Mosquito activity locally progressively increases throughout the summer months until the first heavy frost in the fall. There is currently no risk of direct Zika infection from mosquitoes for Kentuckians who have not traveled to an area where Zika is found. However, even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to Kentucky from an area where Zika transmission is on-going should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes in Northern Kentucky.

Local, state and federal public health officials will continue to monitor the situation and provide guidance as more is learned.

Where can I get more information on Zika virus?
For more information, you can call the Health Department at 859.341.4151 or visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html