Zika Virus

What you need to know about Zika virus

At least 25 San Antonio-area residents have been diagnosed with Zika infection. All of them were infected after traveling to other countries where Zika virus is common. However, the infection can be passed from people to mosquitoes that bite them, and those mosquitoes can go on to infect others. While there is no evidence that has yet happened here, it has happened in Florida and in other countries. People can also spread Zika through sex.

The mosquitoes that are capable of spreading Zika virus are here

CDC's estimate of potential range of aedes in the US

Two types of mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are found here and throughout Texas. Unlike other types of mosquitoes that like to bite at dawn and dusk, Aedes-type mosquitoes can bite at any time — especially during the day.

The best way to prevent Zika is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito

Insect repellant being applied to an arm with a spray canUse an EPA-approved insect repellant. Those containing DEET are proven effective and are safe for pregnant women. Medicaid, CHIP and the Healthy Texas Women program will cover the cost of certain mosquito repellents for females 10-45, and pregnant women of any age. Other ways to avoid mosquito bites: wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants (you can spray repellants on your clothes, too), remove standing water around your home (here’s a great video from Metro Health on how to do that), or stay indoors.

Zika can cause birth defects

Pregnant woman looking at sonogram picturesPregnant women and their unborn babies are especially vulnerable to the Zika virus. If the virus is contracted while a woman is pregnant, it can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which prevents the baby’s head from growing normally and can result in developmental issues. Additionally, microcephaly can cause other serious problems including Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease . If pregnant, it is important that you and your partner refrain from travelling to areas affected by Zika. Because of the spread of Zika in Texas, University Hospital has created our own Zika Center, which is committed to providing the best education, research and care for the Zika virus in the region.

Mosquitoes can bite an infected person and spread it to other people

Mosquitoe on skinZika can be found in someone’s blood for a week after infection. During that time, that person can spread the virus to a mosquito through mosquito bites — allowing the mosquito to infect other people. That same infected person can spread the virus through sex.

An infected person may not know

Pills and thermometer on tableSymptoms of Zika infection may be mild or non-existent. Symptoms can include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (or red eyes), muscle pain and headaches. Symptoms can last up to a week. People who are infected don’t often get sick enough to go to a hospital, and they rarely die of Zika. Once infected, people are likely to have immune protection from getting infected again. There is no specific treatment for Zika.

Testing for Zika Virus at University Health System

University Hospital provides advanced testing and diagnosis for Zika. For more information about Zika testing procedures and diagnosis consider looking at our Read Fact Sheet  for Patients: Understanding Results from the Aptima® Zika Virus Assay.

More information on Zika virus