Symptoms and Signs of Zika Virus

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022

Doctor's Notes on Zika Virus

Zika virus (Flavivirus) is a viral pathogen that causes Zika fever. The virus spreads to humans by mosquito bites or from human to human by sexual contact and can be a cause of severe birth defects. Signs and symptoms of Zika fever include

The signs and symptoms usually resolve on their own. However, the virus can remain viable for many months in the body. For example, Zika virus can be found in the eyes and the semen for many months even if symptoms have resolved. It can infect the fetus at almost any time if the mother becomes infected during pregnancy, with microcephaly (small head) and other birth defects such as delayed development, intellectual disability, and neurological abnormalities as possible outcomes of the infection for the fetus.

Because the virus remains viable in the body even months after symptoms resolve, the infected person may still transmit the Zika viruses by sexual contact to others; over time, however, the risk of infection decreases. Researchers are trying to determine how long people are infective to others.

What Are the Treatments for Zika Virus Infection?

The CDC currently states (2021) that no specific medicine or vaccine is available for Zika virus. However, the CDC lists six supportive care measures for this infection as follows:

  • Treat symptoms.
  • Rest.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Take medicine like acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin or other NSAIDs until the disease termed dengue is ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • Consult with your doctor about medications you currently take or are planning to take.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.