Short answers to hard questions about Zika virus

Thanks to Don Baumgartner of US EPA and Liz Dykstra, PhD, of the Washington state Health Department.

The New York Times posted an article on February 12 with 18 questions about the Zika virus. If you want more information about this new mosquito-transmitted disease, go to the article and click on the links. There is also a video on the page.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/health/what-is-zika-virus.html?_r=1

Questions:

1.  What is the Zika virus?

2.  How does a mosquito transmit Zika?

3.  What areas is Zika likely to reach?

4.  Can the Zika virus be sexually transmitted?

5.  How might Zika cause brain damage in infants?

6.  What is microcephaly?

7.  What countries should pregnant women avoid?

8.  How do I know if I’ve been infected? Is there a test?

 9.  I’m pregnant and I recently visited a country with Zika virus. What do I do?

10.  I’m of childbearing age, but not pregnant and not planning to get pregnant. Should I go to an affected country?

11.  I’m pregnant now, but wasn’t when I visited one of the affected countries. What’s the risk?

12.  I’ve just returned from a place where Zika virus is spreading but experienced no symptoms. How long until I can be sure I can’t pass on an asymptomatic infection?

13.  Does it matter when in her pregnancy a woman is infected with Zika virus?

14.  Should infants be tested? 

15.  Is there a treatment?

16.  Is there a vaccine? How should people protect themselves?

17.  If Zika virus has been in Africa and Asia for decades, why wasn’t a link to microcephaly detected earlier?

18.  Outside of Brazil has a Zika outbreak ever been linked to microcephaly?

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