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What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

Could you tell me what are the symptoms of Zika virus?

16 September 2019

Thank you for writing to us at Ask the Expert.

Zika virus is an infection that is usually a blood borne infection transmitted by mosquitoes when they bite you, but can also be passed on through sexual intercourse and oral sex.

The symptoms of Zika virus are similar to flu.

Symptoms can include:

  • Rashes
  • Generalised itching of the body
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis

The incubation period for the infection is thought to be 2-3 days and the symptoms can last for up to a week.

Diagnosis of the virus is usually by means of testing your blood, saliva or genital fluids.

Treatment for Zika virus usually involves keeping hydrated and taking analgesia (pain killers) and anti-histamines to alleviate symptoms.

Preventing infection by Zika virus is usually by means of using DEET (the active ingredient in many insect repellants) and taking precautions such as covering your skin and using mosquito protection nets and ointments.

On returning to the UK, you should avoid becoming pregnant for a further 2 months if only the woman travelled, and for 3 months if both partners or just the male partner travelled.

If you have experienced Zika symptoms within 2 weeks of returning home, it's recommended that you wait 2 months after full recovery before you try to get pregnant.

If your male partner has travelled to an area with risk for Zika virus transmission, you should use effective contraception to prevent pregnancy.

You should also use condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex to reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

These measures should be taken during travel and for 3 months:
• after the start of symptoms (if he does experience Zika symptoms or a Zika virus infection has been confirmed by a doctor)
• after his return home (if he has no Zika symptoms).

For further information regarding Zika virus you may find the following sites useful:
www.nhs.uk/conditions/zika-virus
www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika
www.travelhealthpro.org.uk

We hope this information has helped you with your enquiry.

Answered by the Health at Hand team

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