CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - April 1, 2016

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Emergency Partners Newsletter


April 1, 2016

Zika virus (Zika) outbreaks are occurring in many 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 spread during sex by a man infected with Zika to his partnersSome 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 (warning: this link contains sexually graphic images) from start to finish, every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex.

Birth Defects

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika infection during pregnancy is linked to microcephaly, a severe birth defect that is a sign of incomplete brain development. CDC is investigating the link between Zika and microcephaly.

In addition to microcephaly, 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. Although Zika virus has been linked with these other problems in infants, there is more to learn. Researchers are collecting data to better understand the extent of Zika virus’ impact on pregnant women and their birth outcomes.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis.

  • The Brazil Ministry of Health has reported an increased number of people who have been infected with Zika virus who also have GBS.
  •  GBS is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections.
  • CDC is working with Brazil to study the possibility of a link between Zika and GBS.


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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    CDC's Role in the Zika Response

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    Click this link and the image above to learn more about CDC's role in the Zika response.

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    CDC's Estimated Range of Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus in the US

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    Click above to enlarge the PDF.

    NY Times Article: "CDC Offers Guidelines for Delaying Pregnancy After Zika Exposure"

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    Click the photo to read the article, and visit CDC's "Women and their partners who are thinking about pregnancy" page to learn more about the suggested timeframes for pregnancy after possible exposure to Zika.

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    Communication Tips

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    Reaching At-Risk Populations

    To reach varied populations, communicators must consider culture, primary languages, and trusted sources of information among their audiences. For example, Latino and Spanish-speaking populations in the US may have loved ones in areas where Zika virus disease (Zika) is currently spreadingWhen CDC provides Zika communication materials that are effective for and meaningful to Latino and Spanish-speaking audiences, they help these audiences become better equipped to avoid Zika and to share Zika prevention information with their loved ones.

    Currently, CDC is translating key messages, informational materials, and CDC’s Zika website into Spanish. CDC is also adapting the materials to make it easier for those most at risk to identify with the messages and images. Messages and images targeted to these audiences let them know that the information is meant for them and that they can make a difference in their health and the health of their loved ones. CDC and its partners are also working with Latino and Spanish-speaking organizations and audiences in areas with ongoing Zika transmission to ensure that the information provided is the information they need, and that it is presented in a way that recognizes and respects their ways of life. With audience feedback and a better understanding of their specific interests, messages can become even more meaningful and actionable.

    Understanding the cultural background, community history, location, and values of your audiences is an important factor in effective communication. Understanding allows you to better address your audiences’ public health concerns and to provide them with understandable, actionable steps they can take to protect themselves and their families.

    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.

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    CDC has updated its interim guidelines for U.S. healthcare providers caring for women of reproductive age during the Zika virus outbreak. Per the updated guidelines, women with a diagnosis of Zika virus disease should wait at least 8 weeks after symptom onset to attempt conception. Men with a diagnosis of Zika virus disease should wait at least 6 months after symptom onset to attempt conception. Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus, but without clinical illness, should wait at least 8 weeks after exposure to attempt conception. Read more at MMWR.

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    CDC has updated guidelines for the prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus. According to the new guidelines, men who have traveled to or reside in an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission and their pregnant sex partners should consistently and correctly use condoms during all forms of sex or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Men and their non-pregnant sex partners who want to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus should use condoms consistently and correctly during sex or abstain from sex.

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    Learn about how removing standing water can help prevent the spread of #Zika.  .

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    The best way to prevent #Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.


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    Social Media Partner Resources

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    Contact Us


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333


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