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What is Zika?  Zika is a type of virus that is spread mainly through mosquito bites.  You can also get it by having sex with someone who is infected (even if he doesn’t have symptoms) or through donated blood/ organs.

Where is Zika found?  Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, the United States territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

At this point, local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has also been reported in Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, FL.  (This blog post provides accurate information as of today; however, additional US locations might be impacted in the future.  Please visit the links listed at the end of this article to stay up to date regarding how the Zika virus is impacting the United States.  )

Can I get Zika through sex?  Yes, it’s possible to get Zika through sex.  If you or your partner has been to a country where mosquitoes carry the Zika virus, it’s a good idea to use a condom for any kind of sex – whether it’s vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Some experts suggest the following guidelines.  These are for people who do not live in countries with the Zika virus:

  • Men who have been to countries where there is Zika and have symptoms should use condoms, or abstain from sex, for at least 6 months after symptoms start.
  • Men who have been to countries where there is Zika but do not have symptoms should use condoms, or not have sex, for at least 2 months after returning.
  • Men who have been to countries where there is Zika whose partner is pregnant should use condoms, or abstain from sex, for the rest of the partner’s pregnancy.  This is especially important, even if the man does not have symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Zika?  Many people infected with Zika have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms.  If there are symptoms, they usually happen 2 to 14 days after being infected.

Symptoms might include: Fever, Rash, Pain in the joints (especially in the hands and feet), Red eyes, Headache, or Other neurological problems.  Zika can also lead to serious problems in babies whose mothers have the infection while they are pregnant.

What if I am pregnant?  If you get infected with Zika while you are pregnant, you could pass the infection on to your baby.  If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, experts say you should avoid traveling to countries where mosquitoes carry the Zika virus.  If you do visit these countries, it’s especially important to try to avoid mosquito bites.  It’s also important to avoid having unprotected sex with anyone who has or might have the Zika virus.

Zika virus during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.  Babies who are born with the infection can have a head and brain that are much smaller than normal.  Doctors call this “microcephaly”.  Babies with microcephaly are at risk of many different issues, including seizures, trouble hearing and seeing normally, learning problems, and other problems with their growth and development.

What if I want to get pregnant in the future?  If you live outside the countries where Zika is found, but you have been to any of these countries, your doctor might suggest that you wait a few months before trying to get pregnant.

What if I am not pregnant and I don’t want to get pregnant in the future?  If you are not pregnant or planning to get pregnant, Zika is not likely to make you very sick or cause serious problems.

Is there a test for Zika?  Yes.  If your doctor or nurse suspects you might have Zika, he or she can order tests to look for the virus.

If you are pregnant, and you have been to an area where there is Zika while pregnant, you should get tested – even if you don’t have any symptoms.

How is Zika treated?  There is no specific treatment for Zika virus infection.  If your symptoms bother you, you should rest and drink plenty of fluids.  You can also take acetaminophen (Brand name: Tylenol) to relieve fever and aches.

Can Zika be prevented?   Yes.  The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to avoid the mosquitoes that carry it.

It’s also important to try to avoid mosquito bites if you have already gotten Zika.  That’s because during the first week of having it, the virus can be found in your blood.  If a mosquito bites you, and then bites another person, that person could get Zika, too.

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus. #DrNita

For the most up to date information regarding the virus, check out these websites:

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