CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - March 25, 2016

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Emergency Partners Newsletter


March 25, 2016

Zika virus (Zika) is spreading in multiple countries and territories. Please share the following information with those who may find it useful.

Table of Contents

Types of Transmission

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). To date, Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, lab tests have confirmed Zika virus in travelers returning to the United States from areas with Zika. These travelers have gotten the virus from mosquito bites. Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted by a man to his partners. A few non-travelers in the United States have become infected with Zika through sex with a traveler.

With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. CDC is not able to predict how much Zika virus would spread in the continental United States. Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. However, recent outbreaks in the continental United States of chikungunya and dengue, which are spread by the same type of mosquito, have been relatively small and limited to a small area.

Not having sex is the best way to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. Couples with men who live in or travel to areas with Zika can prevent the spread of Zika by not having sex or using condoms the right way every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex.


The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The sickness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.


There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus disease.

The following steps can reduce the symptoms of Zika:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine, such as acetaminophen, to reduce fever and pain. 
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding. 
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

To prevent others from getting sick, strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the first week of illness. See your doctor or healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.


The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

To learn more, please visit CDC's Zika virus page.


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    US Zika Pregnancy Registry

    Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to adverse outcomes including pregnancy loss and microcephaly, absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye and impaired growth in fetuses and infants. To understand more about Zika virus infection, CDC established the US Zika Pregnancy Registry and is collaborating with state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to collect information about Zika virus infection during pregnancy and congenital Zika virus infection. The data collected through this registry will be used to update recommendations for clinical care, to plan for services for pregnant women and families affected by Zika virus, and to improve prevention of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Click the factsheet below and view the healthcare provider factsheet to learn more. You can also find out more details by going to


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    Webinar: "From Ebola to Zika - What Do Providers Need to Know?"

    Aedes Aegypti Mosquito

    The Zika outbreak raises many questions: What are the symptoms, and how can cases be identified? What should providers do to prepare? Who needs to be most vigilant? What role should government and public health officials play? What – if any – lessons are applicable from the West African Ebola outbreak? How can Zika inform preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks? 

    In this free webinar, experts from CDC, the US military, and a Florida health system will share their viewpoints.

    • Date: Tues, Mar 29, 2016
    • Time: 4:00 PM EST/3:00 PM CST
    • Duration: 1 hour

    Click HERE to register and learn more!

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    Blog: "Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water"

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    Click the banner to learn how to reduce mosquito breeding in your own environment!

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    Communication Tips

    CERC logo

    How to Promote Action through Self-Efficacy

    Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to take an action. As risk communicators, it is our job to motivate self-efficacy, explain risks, and promote positive health behaviors. CDC recommends that all travelers coming to the continental US from Zika-affected areas take steps to prevent local transmission, even if they do not feel sick and do not show symptoms. In order to encourage individual travelers to adopt positive prevention methods, messages must successfully communicate facts, risks, and the larger public health benefits.

    How can health communicators encourage healthy returned travelers to help fight the spread of Zika virus disease?

    1. Give facts

    Providing facts that support recommendations will help people come to their own conclusions about whether they should take action.

    • Most people infected with Zika will not have symptoms and won’t know they are carrying the virus.
    • The virus can be passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
    • Zika can be spread by a man to his sex partners. There have been confirmed cases of sexual transmission in the continental United States.

    2. Describe the risk

    People perceive risks differently, depending on how familiar they are with the risk, their proximity to affected areas, the vulnerability of those at risk, whether the consequences are reversible, and if the risk is natural or manmade.

    • Although Zika is a natural vector-borne infectious disease that can spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, it may cause irreversible health outcomes in a vulnerable population—babies.
    • Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth.

    3. Encourage self-efficacy as a social norm

    Help all travelers from Zika-affected areas recognize their role in protecting the public’s health. Make actions accessible and clearly understood through fact sheets, prevention kits, and point-of-sale advertising  for insect repellent and condoms. Use community leaders and spokespersons to socialize the importance of mosquito bite prevention and protecting pregnant women.

    • CDC recommends that all travelers returning from an area with Zika to the continental United States take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes, even if the travelers do not feel sick.
    • Men returning from areas with Zika, even without symptoms, are advised that if they have pregnant partners they should wear condoms the right way every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex during the pregnancy.

    If the protective measures taken by these travelers can prevent local Zika transmission, it is important that they understand what that can do and that they can do it. As health communicators, we can promote self-efficacy, make information available, and suggest actions that are doable in order to stop the spread of Zika.

    For more information, please visit our CERC website and refer to Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition.

    Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.

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    Online Resources


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    Stay Connected

    These social media messages are available so that you can share on your organization's social media accounts.

    Facebook large

    #‎Zika‬ virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito bites. Learn more about preventing Zika:

    Facebook large

    Health care providers in the United States play an integral role in educating patients on the risks of Zika virus and how to prevent infection with Zika and viruses carried by mosquitoes. A new MMWR report outlines travel-associated Zika virus disease cases among residents in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Read more:

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    There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent #Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

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    Pregnant and planning a family trip for #SpringBreak? Consider postponing travel to areas w. #Zika. More info:


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    Social Media Partner Resources

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