Zika Virus Infection: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

The Zika virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito that carries the virus. When it causes symptoms (in about one out of every five infections), it typically produces a disease that lasts a few days to a week. Common Zika fever symptoms and signs include

Most people who get the infection have an excellent prognosis and recover completely without complications. However, in Brazil, the viral infection has been linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly (small head and small brain size) in newborns whose mothers became infected with Zika virus during their pregnancy.

Causes of Zika virus infection

Zika virus is a flavivirus that is related to dengue fever, West Nile, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis viruses (Flaviviridae). These viruses are transmitted to humans by mosquito bites, and this is the primary method of spread. Blood product transfusions and organ transplantation may allow rare person-to-person transmission. Other possible methods of spread may be mother to fetus and under certain conditions, by sexual contact. About one in five people who become infected develop symptoms and signs.

REFERENCE:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Zika Virus." Feb. 5, 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/zika/>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2016

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