What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

Below is the latest information sheet approved by Dr. Asim Jani, Orlando Health’s Hospital Epidemiologist.

You have undoubtedly read a lot about the Zika virus in the news recently. This virus is one of many viruses spread by mosquitoes. This virus is particularly concerning because of reports from Brazil linking Zika infections in pregnant women with microcephaly in their babies. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s brain does not develop properly or stops growing during pregnancy.  Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant in the near future should avoid travel if possible to Central or South America or the Caribbean where local transmission has occurred.
Key information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes:

  • Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites.
  • The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.

Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, and the Caribbean including Puerto Rico. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.

  • Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus (see map ( or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

The CDC has recommended that pregnant women postpone travel to areas where transmission is taking place unless absolutely necessary and that if you must travel to one of these areas to check with your obstetrician before you go. Go to the CDC Travel Health Notices site for more details.
Orlando Health is providing the latest CDC/Florida Department of Health screening and testing protocols to our Emergency Departments and obstetricians.  Get the latest information from the CDC and the Florida Dept. of Health at the links below: 


Florida Dept. of Health: