The Zika Virus: What We Know Today

January 29, 2016 Brigham and Women's Hospital

The Zika virus is spread by aedes mosquitoes.

The Zika virus is spread by Aedes mosquitoes.

Seemingly hot on the heels of the Ebola outbreak, the news headlines in recent days are dominated by the Zika virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus is spread by Aedes mosquitoes, and the most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The cause for alarm, according to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, is that the “arrival of the virus in some cases has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads.” In a statement calling for the convening of a WHO emergency committee on the virus, she added: “A causal relationship between the Zika virus and birth malformations and neurological syndromes has not yet been established – this is an important point – but it is strongly suspected.”

For information on the Zika virus, visit the CDC Zika website.  Specific CDC recommendations for pregnant women can be found here.

– Vicki A.

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