CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - May 6, 2016

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Emergency Partners Newsletter


May 6, 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 fetal 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

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    Zika Activity Book: For Kids in Areas with Zika

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    Click the image or here to load the "Mosquito Bites are Bad!" activity book for kids in areas with Zika. This activity book teaches children to protect themselves from mosquito bites and prevent mosquitos from laying eggs near their homes.

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    Infographic: Going to the Olympic Games in Brazil?

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    Zika virus is spreading in Brazil. Because Zika infection during pregnancy causes serious birth defects, pregnant women should not go to Brazil. Click the image and here to read more about the five principles of travel health that travelers should keep in mind during their trip.

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    CDC Fact Sheets and Posters Available in Multiple Languages

    mandarin fact sheet
    "For pregnant women in areas with Zika: Protect your pregnancy" in Mandarin
    french creole fact sheet
    "Pregnant and living in an area with Zika?" in French Creole

    Click the images and here to find several fact sheets and posters that have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, Portuguese, and French Creole.

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    Communication Tips: "Why Credibility is Crucial in a Crisis"

    CERC logo

    Why Credibility is Crucial in a Crisis

    Credibility counts. In a crisis, people rely on responders to share the information they need to protect themselves and their communities; and information that comes from a public official will be judged based on whether it is trustworthy. People are more likely to follow the public health advice of organizations—and communicators—they trust.  

    Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) guidance offers basic principles to help crisis communicators maintain credibility. Organizations that are first, right, empathetic, respectful, and action-oriented may demonstrate their commitment to addressing community needs, but the information they release should also be honest and truthful. Of course, this can be a challenge in a crisis when communicators don’t have all the answers.

    The current spread of Zika virus (Zika) continues to complicate communication. Too much information is currently unnecessary in areas that don’t have locally transmitted, mosquito-borne Zika, and may inspire needless anxiety. However, states that are closer in proximity to areas affected by local transmission—including Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean—may want more information, and could become frustrated with an organization that doesn’t supply reliable updates. Because Zika can spread locally through sexual transmission from men who have recently traveled to areas with Zika, confusion may arise if consistent clarification and dependable updates aren’t available. While experts continue to learn more about the virus, CDC communicators concentrate on sharing new information that is accessible, understandable, and straightforward.

    Organizations with well-established credibility can maintain open lines of communication with their audiences. They can listen to the public and respond to questions and concerns. They can steadily correct misinformation, develop new messages, and reassure the public that the agency is working hard to respond to people’s needs. Once lost, credibility is difficult to regain. CERC principles can help organizations conserve their credibility to effectively communicate key information that can affect behavior change and positive public health outcomes.

    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

    zika mosquito

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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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    Couples in which a man has been diagnosed with Zika or had symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms correctly every time they have sex or should not have sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin. Learn more:

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    Zika continues to circulate in Puerto Rico and residents there as well as travelers to Puerto Rico must continue to do all they can to prevent mosquito bites, take precautions to reduce the risk of sexual transmission and seek medical care for any acute illness with rash or fever. Clinicians who suspect Zika virus disease in patients who reside in or have recently returned from areas with Zika should report cases to public health officials.

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    #Zika is a very challenging virus to fight and the response is enormously complex. What CDC is doing:  @Time

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    Puerto Rico continues to see newly confirmed cases of #Zika. 


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    Social Media Partner Resources

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