Zika Virus: What You Should Know
The Zika virus has arrived in the United States, with mosquitoes spreading the virus in two Miami-area neighborhoods and the CDC advising pregnant women to avoid those areas.
The virus causes birth defects in babies born to some infected pregnant women. It’s mainly spread through mosquitoes, although some cases of sexual transmission have been reported.
Pregnant women who have traveled to the Wynwood area of Miami or a section of Miami Beach should see their doctor about getting tested, the CDC says. Pregnant women and their partners who live in the areas or must travel there should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
The areas are just north of downtown Miami and Miami Beach between 8th and 28th streets, according to the Florida Department of Health.
"We're in the midst of mosquito season and expect more Zika infections in the days and months to come," CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a statement. That agency has also issued travel warnings for pregnant women in countries where the disease is spreading.
What is Zika? How can you avoid it? WebMD answers your questions.
What is the Zika virus? How do you catch it?
The Zika virus, first identified in Uganda in 1947, is transmitted by the same type of mosquito that carries dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya virus. A mosquito bites an infected person and then passes those viruses to other people it bites. Outbreaks did not occur outside of Africa until 2007, when it spread to the South Pacific.
The CDC has confirmed Zika can spread through sex, usually after a person traveled to an area where Zika has broken out, got the virus, and gave the virus to a sex partner who did not travel. Infected women and men can both pass the virus to sex partners -- even if they haven’t shown symptoms of infection, the CDC says.
The CDC is aware of a report that Brazilian scientists have found the virus in the saliva and urine of infected people, Frieden has said, but more information is needed.