Zika virus is spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. The illness is attributed to the Aedes species of mosquito, which is found throughout the world, but Zika virus is currently being reported only in tropical locations such as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Central America, South America, Africa and Southern Asia. No local transmission has been reported by residents in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, but there have been cases reported in the United States from travelers returning from an affected area.
The most common symptoms associated with the illness are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms will typically last for several days to a week and will rarely require hospitalization. Please note that medical professionals are investigating reports of serious birth defects and pregnancy complications involving pregnant mothers and their babies who were infected by the virus. For information on Zika virus as it relates to pregnant women, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Currently, there are no medications or vaccines available to prevent the illness. Treatment involves getting plenty of rest, preventing dehydration by drinking fluids, and taking medications to treat the fever and pain. The best solution is to prevent mosquito bites themselves by using traditional mosquito repellents when outdoors, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and eliminating areas where water can collect for more than 3-7 days.