What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.
It was first discovered in 1947 and takes its name from the Zika Forest in Uganda.
Information about countries with current Zika outbreaks can be found on the CDC’s website.
What are the symptoms of Zika?
Many people (approximately 80 percent) infected with the Zika virus never develop symptoms. However, the most common signs are joint pain, rash, fever, and eye redness. An infected individual may also experience muscle pain and a headache.
Infection carries a higher risk to a pregnant woman because of the possibility of passing along the infection to her fetus. The CDC has concluded there is enough evidence to link a Zika infection with birth defects, including microcephaly.
More information can be found on the CDC website.
How is Zika spread?
The most common method of transmission is through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. A pregnant woman can also pass the virus to her fetus, and an infected man may infect his sex partners.
While there are no confirmed incidents in the U.S., it is possible to contract the virus during a blood transfusion from an infected individual.
Learn more about virus transmission.
When will symptoms appear?
It is important to remember most people will not experience symptoms. However, if they do, symptoms will usually appear within a few days to a week following infection.
What treatment is available for Zika?
There is currently no specific medication to treat Zika or a vaccine to prevent infection. According to the CDC, the following steps should be taken to treat Zika symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
Infected individuals should also take care during the first week of their illness to prevent mosquito bites, which could lead to the virus spreading to others.
How is Zika diagnosed?
Zika is most commonly diagnosed through blood tests. If you are experiencing symptoms and have recently traveled to a country where the virus is found, contact your healthcare provider.
What is my risk of exposure to Zika?
If you have not traveled to a country with a Zika outbreak and do not have a male sex partner who has been infected through travel to an impacted country, your risk is minimal.
Anyone who lives in or travels to a country where Zika is found – and has not already been infected with the virus – can contract it from a mosquito bite. Once you have had Zika, you are unlikely to contract it again.
What can I do to protect myself?
The following actions will help protect you against the Zika virus:
- Avoid travel to areas with Zika.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and screens to keep out mosquitos.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents when outside. The CDC recommends products that contain one of the following active ingredients:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus
- Avoid areas with standing water that could serve as mosquito breeding sites.
- Use condoms every time you have sex with a male partner who has been in a country with the Zika virus.
- If you are pregnant and have traveled to a country with the Zika virus, consider speaking to your healthcare provider.
What should I do if I think I am infected with Zika?
If you are a student, contact your primary care physician or the Student Health Center at 704-687-7400.
If you are a faculty or staff member, contact your primary care physician.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider that you have recently traveled to a country where Zika is found.
Follow the CDC’s advice for treating your symptoms.
What should I do if I am planning a trip to a country impacted by the Zika virus?
Visit the CDC’s website for travel information specific to the country you are visiting, including ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
What is UNC Charlotte doing to respond to the Zika virus?
There is no reason to believe there is a risk of widespread infection to the UNC Charlotte campus.
At this time, there have been no local mosquito-borne Zika cases in North Carolina.
University officials continue to monitor the situation closely and evaluate any risk to campus.