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Disease

Zika virus

Page last updated on 28 February 2019

Zika virus disease is a viral illness that does not always produce symptoms. However, in some people infection has been linked to complications such as birth defects, miscarriage and stillbirth and a neurological (nerve) condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Key disease information

What is zika virus disease?

Zika virus disease is a mosquito-borne viral illness that is commonly transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus does not cause illness in everyone who is infected – some people do not experience any symptoms at all. However, around one in five people may get symptoms including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, severe headache and muscle pain. In some people the disease can cause complications – such as stillbirth or birth defects in the unborn child of an infected, pregnant mother. In others, it can cause a neurological condition that affects the nerves that make your muscles move called Guillain Barre syndrome.

Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific Islands.

How is zika virus disease spread?

Zika virus disease can be transmitted in several ways. Commonly it is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. However, it can also be spread from a mother to her unborn child, from person-to-person through sexual intercourse or through a blood transfusion that is infected with the virus.

Is zika virus disease contagious?

Yes, zika virus disease is contagious if your blood comes into contact with blood from an infected person or mosquito bite.

What are the symptoms of zika virus disease?

Most people who contract the zika virus will experience no symptoms at all. However, for the one in five that do, they may experience:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pain

These symptoms typically only last for a few days to a week and don’t require hospitalisation. However, more serious complications can result from zika virus infection in some people.

How can zika virus disease be prevented?

The best way to prevent zika virus disease is to prevent any contact with blood from an infected person. That means avoiding mosquito bites and practicing safe sex.

To avoid mosquito bites, you can wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, use insect repellent that contains DEET, and make sure the place you are staying and sleeping has mosquito screens or netting.

Currently there is no licensed vaccine to prevent zika virus disease. For more information regarding zika virus disease, speak with a healthcare professional before you travel.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. Victoria State Government. Better Health Channel. Zika virus. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/zika-virus (accessed 25 October 2018).
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika virus. Overview. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/overview.html (accessed 25 October 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.10.0374 - Date of preparation October 2018