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Zika virus disease, also called Zika fever, is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

 

First identified in Ugandan monkeys in 1947, then in humans in 1952, the Zika virus was virtually dormant for six decades. Global outbreaks in 2015 were recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.  Evidence shows there is an association between infection during pregnancy and babies born with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. On 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

 
a mother holds a baby with microcephaly in brazil
Zika

Causes

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These mosquitoes bite during the day, usually just after sunrise and around sunset.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint aches

Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms; for those who do, symptoms tend to last for two to seven days. In some cases, women who are infected by Zika virus during pregnancy bear children with serious health conditions, including microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause life-long disability.

More about Zika

1Where does Zika occur?

It is possible to contract Zika in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Approximately 84 countries are affected.

2How many people have been affected by Zika?

Since 2015, more than 500,000 suspected cases of Zika have been reported, with 3521 recorded cases of congenital brain abnormalities associated with the disease.

3How does Zika spread?

Zika can spread wherever Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are present. It is a human virus transmitted primarily by this mosquito, which is commonly found around homes and urban areas.

4How is Zika treated?

There is no treatment for Zika virus, other than rest and the management of symptoms with common medicines. The Zika virus is only active in an individual for approximately seven days.

5How can we help prevent Zika?

There is no vaccine for Zika virus. 

However, the World Mosquito Program’s Wolbachia method is showing promising results internationally. It is helping to block the transmission of Zika, as well as other viruses transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Fact sheet

Download this information about Zika, its symptoms, treatments and prevention techniques.

Read our Zika fact sheet
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