Questions & answers
What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?
Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. The highest alleged risk is for pregnant women, as there are several reports of a serious birth defect of the brain and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant.
Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?
No treatment or vaccine is currently available. The only effective protection against mosquito related transmission of the Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. The use of skin repellents is an essential element in the prevention of mosquito bites.
How is Zika transmitted?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are aggressive day- and nighttime biters. 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. It can also be transmitted via sexual transmission and from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found and who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.
What countries have Zika?
The Zika virus is spreading rapidly, for a most recent update, consult your local health authorities.
Can you be immune for life once infected?
Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Should we be concerned about Zika in the Europe?
There are different types of Aedes mosquito capable of transmitting the Zika virus. In most cases, Zika spreads through the Aedes aegypti mosquito in tropical and subtropical regions. The Aedes albopictus mosquito (Tiger mosquito) can also become infected and transmit the virus8. This mosquito can hibernate and survive cooler temperature regions and is abundant in the EU.
1 Approved by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases for the use in tropical areas with high risk of malaria and other insect transmitted diseases provided that instructions for use are followed at all times
2 Product specific data available on file at Omega Pharma
3 Health Protection Scotland, Recommendations for travelers
4 National Health Service, UK
5 Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak — United States, January 22, 2016 / 65(2);30–33
6 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) RAPID RISK ASSESSMENT. Zika virus epidemic in the Americas: potential association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. 10 December 2015
7 Chen-Hussey et al., 2014. Assessment of methods used to determine the safety of the topical insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), Parasites & Vectors 2014, 7:173
8 Expert comment London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine