Zika Virus

What you need to know about Zika virus

At least 20 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

Mosquito RepellantUse 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

Zika and birth defectsIf you’re pregnant, Zika can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which is a sign that the baby’s brain hasn’t grown properly. The infection can also cause other serious problems, including a neurological disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome. If you are pregnant, do not travel to an area with Zika. If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to areas with Zika, do not have sex — or use condoms every time — during your pregnancy. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL to a place with Zika during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor first and always follow advice on how to avoid being bitten. 

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

Mosquitoes bitesZika 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

Symptoms of ZikaSymptoms 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.

If you are tested for Zika infection at University Health System

More information on Zika virus