CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - May 13, 2016

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Emergency Partners Newsletter


May 13, 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. See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.

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.


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 at

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    Zika and Sexual Transmission: What We Know and What We Don't Know

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    Click to load the full document.

    Click the image or here to load the full "Zika and Sexual Transmission: What We Know and What We Don't Know" infographic.

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    Infographic: How Zika Spreads

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    Protect Your Family and Your Community: How Zika Spreads

    Click here or the infographic above to learn all the ways Zika can be spread.

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    US Surgeon General's Zika Protection Video

    surgeon general video
    Screenshot of the US Surgeon General's Zika Video

    Click the screenshot or here to watch Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy's (US Surgeon General) video on how to protect yourself and others from Zika.

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    Communication Tips: "The Crisis Communication Lifecycle"

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    The Crisis Communication Lifecycle

    Every emergency evolves. For communicators, it’s important to understand that crises happen in phases; and understanding the pattern of a disaster can help communicators anticipate problems and appropriately respond.

    CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) Communication Lifecycle identifies the types of information that need to be delivered during different phases of an emergency.

    cerc process

    The pre-crisis phase, which occurs before the onset of the emergency, is the best time for a communicator to prepare by creating a crisis communication plan, drafting messages, identifying possible audiences, and predicting communication needs. When a new disaster happens, these ready resources can help communicators respond rapidly. Strong communication using CERC principles is vital in the initial phase of a response, when there is the greatest confusion and least amount of available information. It’s important to remember that as the emergency response progresses, available information and audience needs will change. Communication resources and strategies must adapt to meet these evolving needs.

    All crises will go through all five stages, although the length of time for each stage will vary for each crisis, and even for different stakeholders who are affected. For example, as Zika virus disease (Zika) continues to initially affect new areas, some have been maintaining their outbreak response for a while. Others are in the pre-crisis phase, preparing for the eventuality that they too may have to deal with Zika soon. Even in the same location, pregnant women may experience a higher level of initial anxiety while the larger populations quickly moves on to the maintenance phase. Organizations addressing Zika are faced with the challenge of simultaneously communicating to diverse audiences experiencing different phases of the outbreak.

    Emergency communicators must:

    • Recognize that all audiences are likely to experience all five stages, although individuals may go through the CERC Communication Lifecycle at different paces.
    • Adapt messaging to address audiences who are in different stages.
    • Always listen to stakeholders for feedback to inform and adapt messages that can better meet communications needs as they constantly change.
    • Know that as a crisis progresses, it may also move back a stage. Much like an earthquake will have aftershocks, new information can sometimes shake a response from the maintenance phase back to the confusion of the initial phase. 

    Movement through each of the phases will vary according to the emergency, and events can develop in surprising ways. Not all crises are equal; their intensity and longevity can fluctuate. Well-planned and well-executed CERC, fully integrated into the activities of every phase, is critical to effective response communication.

    For the more details on CERC, please visit our CERC website and refer to Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition and Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

    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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    Living in an area with Zika? Help stop the spread of Zika by following these four steps: Cover up and use EPA-registered insect repellent, remove standing water, keep mosquitoes out of your home, and use condoms to help prevent the spread of Zika virus. Keep yourself, your family, and your community safe and healthy. Watch this video to learn more about preventing Zika:

    Facebook large

    Pregnant and worried about Zika? Follow these steps to protect yourself, your family, and your community from Zika: Cover up and use EPA- registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol, remove standing water, keep mosquitoes out of your home, and use condoms to help prevent the spread of Zika virus. These steps will help protect you, your family, and your community from getting Zika. Watch this video to learn more about preventing Zika:

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    Learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your community from #Zika in this new video.

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    #ZikaVirus is an emergency. Congress should treat it as one & pass @POTUS's funding request:


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    Social Media Partner Resources

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