Zika virus is spread by mosquitos and has been reported in multiple countries around the world, including the United States. It is considered a public health concern because Zika virus can be spread from mother to fetus during pregnancy and cause birth defects, most notably microcephaly (incomplete brain development with a small head size). Zika virus can also be spread via sexual intercourse and likely also by blood transfusion. Most people who become infected by Zika virus have either no symptoms at all or only mild symptoms. Those who become symptomatic may experience fever, rash, conjunctivitis (inflammation with redness of the eyes), joint pain, and possibly headache and muscle pain. With some exceptions, patients who are infected don’t require a visit to the hospital in most cases. There is no known cure for infection by Zika virus. Treatment consists of symptom management and includes getting rest, taking plenty of fluids, and administering acetaminophen for fever and pain relief. Most importantly, one should avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin, until dengue is ruled out.
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