Zika virus is a disease spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, specifically, Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread other viruses such as dengue and chikungunya.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and death is rare. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus. During pregnancy, Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Though Zika is primarily a mosquito-borne virus, spread of the virus through sexual contact has also been reported. If individuals have traveled to Zika-infected areas and suspect they have become infected with the virus, it is recommended that they use safe-sex practices and notify their healthcare provider for further evaluation.

For more information and the Zika Toolkit visit the Harris County Public Health website.