Zika Virus

Zika virus was discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to those of many other diseases, many cases may not have been recognized until recently.  Zika Virus is spread through:

  • Mosquito bites
  • From a pregnant woman to her fetus
  • Through sexual contact
  • Blood transfusions

Zika Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with ZIka, they are likely to be protected from future infections.

What to do if you have Zika Virus

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic Tylenol) to reduce fever and pain
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication
  • Follow your doctor's instructions

How to Prevent Zika

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you are around mosquitoes
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items
  • Use EPA registered insect repellents. Always follow the product instructions
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available
  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex

Why Zika is Risky for Some People

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetuses to have a birth defect of the brain called Microcephaly. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing defects, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrom, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system.

  • Can I get Zika from sex?

    Yes, you can get Zika from sex with a partner who has Zika, even if your partner does not have symptoms at the time, or if their symptoms have gone away. Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and the sharing of sex toys.

    Note: Only people with sex partners who live in or traveled to an area with Zika are at risk for getting Zika through sex. See Zika Outbreaks for more information.

  • Should I be concerned about getting Zika from sex?

    Zika is of greatest concern for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant while infected. This is because Zika can cause birth defect in babies born to women who are infected during pregnancy.

    For everyone else, Zika rarely causes serious disease. Many people with Zika won't have symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they are usually mild. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

  • What can I do to reduce my chance of getting Zika from sex?

    Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

    If you are pregnant:

    • Use a condom every time you have sex or do not have sex during your pregnancy. This is important, even if your partner does not have symptoms of Zika.

    If you are NOT pregnant but want to avoid getting Zika from sex:

    You can use condoms every time you have sex or not have sex after your partner returns from travel. the length of time for taking these precautions depends on your partner. Refer to recommendations below:

    • If your male or female partner does not have Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 8 weeks after his or her return
    • If your female partner has Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 8 weeks after her symptoms started
    • If your male partner has Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 6 months after his symptoms started. Zika stays in semen longer than other body fluids and can be passed to a man's partners during that time
  •  Is there anything I should know about Condoms and Zika?


    • Use a condom every time you have sex
    • Put on a condom before  having sex
    • Read the package and check the expiration date
    • Make sure there are no tears or defects
    • Store condoms in a cool, dry place
    • Use latex or polyurethane condoms
    • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage


    • Don't store condoms in your wallet as heat and friction can damage them
    • Don't use ononoxynol-9 spermicide, as this can cause irritation
    • Don't use oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, or cooking oil because they will cause the condom to break
    • Don't use more than one condom at a time
    • Don't reuse a condom

    Note: You can obtain free condoms in the health center waiting room.