Zika is a mosquito-transmitted virus. The virus is not new, but it has only recently been recognized in the Western Hemisphere. The virus is typically transmitted from an infected person to a person susceptible by mosquito bites.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. The infection and illness resolve on their own without treatment. However, a connection between Zika virus infection and a birth defect known as microcephaly has raised major concerns for women of childbearing age living in or considering travel to affected countries.
Not all mosquito species can spread Zika virus. The most important mosquito that transmits the virus is Aedes aegypti, which is not found in Nashville. However, our most common nuisance mosquito, Aedes albopictus (the ‘Asian Tiger mosquito’) appears to be capable of spreading Zika virus, at least under some conditions. They breed in standing water, typically in containers found in populated areas. The mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus (mainly Culex mosquitoes) also breed in standing water.
When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself
from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women. Always follow the product label instructions
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
If you have Zika, protect others from getting sick. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.
Information for Travelers
Visit Centers for Disease Control’s Travelers Health website to see if the country you plan to visit has any travel health notices.
Zika Spring Breakers information