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reviewed 8/31/2018

Zika virus: True or false?

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that mainly occurs in tropical areas. Before 2015, Zika was seen in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. More recently, Zika has been reported in the Americas and remains a hot topic in the news. How much do you know about Zika?

True or false: The Zika virus is spread only through mosquito bites.

False. It's true that mosquitos spread the virus, but it can also be passed from person to person. That's mainly though unprotected sexual contact. So if you or your partner may be infected with Zika, it's best to use condoms until you can be tested. The virus also passes from a mother to her unborn baby.

True or false: The Zika virus can cause birth defects if a pregnant woman becomes infected.

True. Serious birth defects have been linked to Zika infection. Those include microcephaly—when the baby's head is abnormally small—and problems with the brain, eyes and nerves. Pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant should avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus is active.

True or false: People infected with the Zika virus usually get very sick.

False. Many people infected with Zika do not have any symptoms. When symptoms do show up, they can be so mild that people may not realize they have Zika at all. The most common symptoms of infection include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Symptoms can last for several days to a week.

True or false: The Zika virus is only a concern for the southern parts of the U.S.

False. Zika has made it to the mainland U.S., and there have been documented cases in several regions. They're primarily in the southern part of the country but not exclusively. Avoid infection by repelling mosquitos and practicing safe sex no matter where you live, especially if you or your partner is pregnant.

True or false: The best way to protect yourself against the virus is to avoid mosquito bites.

True. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, so avoiding mosquito bites is your best protection. Also use condoms during sex if you or your partner may have been exposed to Zika. And avoid traveling to places where Zika is active if possible.

Stay up-to-date on travel advisories and other information about the Zika virus by checking in with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Visit CDC's Zika page

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization

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