CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - April 22, 2016

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Emergency Partners Newsletter


April 22, 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. Zika virus can also be spread during sex by a man infected with Zika to his male or female 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 only 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 using condoms every time they have sex, or by not having sex. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly (warning: this link contains sexually graphic images) from start to finish, every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex.

Birth Defects

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Zika infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly, a severe birth defect that is a sign of a problem with brain development, and other severe brain defects.

In addition to microcephaly, other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as 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. Scientists continue to study the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.

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 investigating the link between Zika and GBS.


The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are

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

Many 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 or medicine for Zika.

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 other 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 and key messages.


CDC welcomes suggestions and feedback. If you would like to comment on any of these announcements or send us suggestions, including suggestions for new content, please contact us as

    return to top

    HashtagVOA: Zika Questions & Answers


    Click the image or here to watch Drs. Anne Schuchat (CDC), Paul Jarris (March of Dimes), and Marcus Espinal (PAHO WHO) discuss and answer social media questions about Zika on HashtagVOA.

    return to top

    NY Times: Zika Virus Causes Birth Defects, Health Officials Confirm

    baby zika

    Click the image or here to read the New York Times article about Zika's link to microcephaly and other birth defects.

    return to top

    ZAP Summit: CERC and Leadership Presentations

    cerc summit

    Click the image or here to listen to Dr. Barbara Reynolds' presentation on crisis and emergency risk communication and Dr. Leonard Marcus' presentation on leadership during the Zika response. For more presentations from the ZAP Summit, click here.  

    return to top

    Communication Tips

    CERC logo

    How to Handle Hopelessness and Helplessness

    Communications that challenge hopelessness and helplessness are crucial during a crisis. If communities allow their feelings of fear, anxiety, confusion, and dread to grow unchecked, they may be less motivated and less able to take actions that could help themselves and their loved ones.

    Hopelessness is the feeling that nothing can be done by anyone to make the situation better. People may accept that a threat is real, but that threat may loom so large that they feel the situation is hopeless. Helplessness is the feeling that they themselves have no power to improve their situation. If people feel helpless to protect themselves, they may withdraw mentally or physically and fail to take actions to protect themselves and their families from the emergency.

    Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) principles teach the importance of addressing hopelessness and helplessness during a public health emergency. Instead of trying to eliminate a community’s emotional responses to the crisis, communicators should help people manage their negative feelings through actions. Actions can help the public feel empowered to manage parts of their lives in the midst of chaos. Taking an action during a crisis can help to restore a sense of control and overcome feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

    Scientists are working hard to learn important details about the Zika virus (Zika) outbreak; unfortunately, uncertainties may contribute to feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. This could lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness in those potentially most affected by Zika. Some women may feel there is nothing they can do to reduce the risk of becoming infected while they are pregnant, because Zika virus is so widespread in their area. By promoting actions to avoid mosquito bites and sexual transmission, we can help reduce their risk and increase their sense of empowerment.

    As much as possible, communicators should advise people to take actions that are constructive and directly relate to the crisis they’re facing. These actions can promote productive behaviors to help keep people safe.

    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.

    return to top


    Online Resources

    zika world map

    return to top

    Stay Connected

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

    Facebook large

    Are you pregnant? CDC recommends pregnant women not travel to any area where ‪#‎Zika‬ virus is spreading. Learn more:

    Facebook large

    Men with pregnant partners who live in or have traveled to an area with Zika should use condoms correctly every time they have sex or should not have sex during pregnancy. They should also take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Learn more:

    Twitter Logo

    Pregnant women: Prevent mosquito bites, cover arms/legs, and use insect repellent. Learn more. #VitalSigns

    Twitter Logo

    Men who’ve traveled to areas with #Zika – you can help prevent the spread of Zika. Read more:


    return to top

    Social Media Partner Resources

    Social Media Icons




    return to top

    Contact Us


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


    Contact CDC-INFO

    800-CDC-INFO    (800-232-4636)    TTY: 888-232-6348

    email symbol



    return to top