5 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

5 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

What was once a little known name, the Zika virus has now become a top headline nearly every morning. There are many misconceptions around the virus, how it’s spread and why it has reemerged but here are 5 undeniable facts about the Zika virus that you should be aware of.

1. The Zika virus is Spread in Two Known Ways

Originally it was believed that mosquito bites were the only way to spread the virus but we now know that sexual transmission is possible as well.

If a man has recently visited an infected country or territory and has been bitten by a virus-infected mosquito, he can then infect his female partner. If she becomes infected and pregnant, she has a much higher chance of having a child with birth defects or microcephaly; a condition noted by a smaller head and damaged brain development.

One frightening aspect of sexual transmission is that only one in five of those affected actually exhibit symptoms, however, they are still infected and able to spread the virus.

2. Unborn Babies Are at the Highest Risk of Complications

While many adults have few (if any) signs of the virus, unborn babies are at the highest risk of developing serious complications. The most common complication associated with Zika is microcephaly. From 2015 to present day, there have been an excess of 4,000 total new cases of microcephaly which are suspected to be caused by Zika.

3. Currently No Vaccine for Zika Exists

With all we are learning about the Zika virus, health officials and scientists are working diligently to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. While much research is currently underway, there is still no vaccine at this time.

4. Zika was First Discovered in 1947


While we are just now hearing about Zika in the news, it was actually first discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest which is located in Uganda. From 1951 to 1981 outbreaks were reported in Africa and Asia. It wasn’t until 2007 when Polynesia residents became infected (a shocking 73%!). The recent outbreak began in 2014 when Zika was identified in Latin America.

5. Zika is Coming Back with Travelers to the United States

While it’s not likely you heard of it back then, the first confirmed travel-associated Zika case among U.S. travelers was reported in 2007. From 2007 to 2014 there were a totally of 14 returning travelers who tested positive for Zika. Currently the CDC reports a total of 193 Zika cases associated with travel and 173 cases of local infections in the U.S. territories.

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