If you are pregnant and have traveled, plan to travel, or your partner has traveled to an area with Zika, talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself. In pregnant women, the Zika virus can cause birth defects.

What is the Zika virus?

Zika is a virus that people can get from a mosquito bite. The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects, such as microcephaly. It also has been linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Though there is no immediate concern for anyone with Zika who is not pregnant, it is important to know how to prevent the spread of Zika to protect others.

Zika risks and pregnancy

Anyone who is bitten by an infected mosquito is at risk of getting Zika. There is no vaccine to protect against Zika. It is important to consider talking to your doctor about getting checked for the virus if you have traveled to an area where Zika has been reported.

Check with the Centers for Disease Control to get travel information on areas where the Zika virus is present. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information

Is Zika a problem in New England?

Mosquitos known to carry the Zika virus (as well as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever) are not found in New England. It is possible to get Zika by traveling to areas known for the virus. Taking necessary precautions are important to avoid exposure. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

Zika virus symptoms

Zika virus symptoms do not typically appear until two to seven days after infection. The incubation period for Zika is expected to be a couple days. Symptoms reported include:

  • Fever

  • Rash

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • General discomfort

  • Headache

Zika diagnosis and treatment

Lab tests can determine whether a person has the Zika virus. If you believe you could have Zika, talk to your doctor about testing and the possibility of pregnancy. Zika symptoms will usually pass within a week. Medications such as acetaminophen or paracetamol can reduce fever and pain. Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) without talking to your doctor first.

You can take some proactive steps to avoid mosquitos and the risk of getting the Zika virus:

  • Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent. Choose EPA-registered repellents that have DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol as the main ingredient.

  • Wear protective clothing and use bug screens while sleeping.

  • Be aware that the type of mosquitos that become infected with the Zika virus mostly bite during the day.