The Zika Virus

The Zika virus is a disease that is spread to humans from an infected mosquito. Zika can also be spread among humans through sexual contact.

Symptoms

While most people do not experience symptoms if they have contracted Zika, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint Pain
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  • Headache
  • Muscle Pain

Symptoms are usually mild and last 5-7 days after contraction.

Transmission

Zika virus can be transmitted:

Prevention

Prevent Mosquito Bites

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside.
  • Avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn.
  • Avoid standing pools of water. Remove any pools of water that you see outside your residence.
  • Use an insect repellant with DEET at all times when outdoors. (If you have a DEET allergy, insect repellant without DEET is recommended.)
  • Stay somewhere that has air conditioning or intact window screens to keep mosquitos outdoors.
  • Use mosquito netting while sleeping.

Zika is spread through blood for about 1 week after contraction. Continue using preventative measures to avoid further mosquito bites if you have symptoms.

For more information, visit CDC's pages on:

Use Contraception

  • Zika can be spread through semen before symptoms are present and up to 3 months after contraction. Men who are confirmed to have contracted Zika are recommended to use protection during all sexual acts for 3-6 months.
  • Men should use condoms correctly during all sexual acts to avoid spreading Zika to their partners.
  • It is unknown if women can transfer Zika to their partners during unprotected sex.

Prevention for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should take extreme measures to prevent the contraction of Zika due to the connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly.

  • The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women and their partners avoid travel to areas with confirmed cases of Zika.
  • Women who are pregnant and have male partners that have traveled to infected areas and/or have had Zika symptoms should use condoms during all sexual activity and speak to their healthcare provider immediately.

Visit CDC's Zika and Pregnancy page for more information.

International Travel

The Centers for Disease Control has issued travel notices to areas where Zika is being spread. It is recommended that travelers, especially pregnant women, avoid travel to these areas. If one cannot avoid travel or their male partners plan to travel to these areas, they should take the necessary precautions while traveling and upon return.

After Your Trip

  • Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites for at least 7 days upon your return.
  • Call your doctor if you have Zika symptoms.
  • Take precautions against sexual transmission for at least 8 weeks if you and your partner have no symptoms after travel.
  • Take precautions against sexual transmission for 3-6 months if you or your partner have had Zika symptoms after travel.

The Dallas County Health Department and the Student Health Center are able to provide testing for the Zika virus. Individuals must meet the epidemiologic testing criteria in order to receive testing.

Additional Resources