CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Special Zika Virus Edition - May 20, 2016

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Emergency Partners Newsletter


May 20, 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 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.


There is no vaccine for Zika. 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: The Basics of the Virus and How to Protect Against It

    zika basics
    Click to load the full document.

    Click the image or here to learn more basic information about Zika.

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    Ideas for Talking to Your Children about Zika

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    Protect Your Family and Your Community: How Zika Spreads

    Click here or the fact sheet above to learn how to talk to children about the Zika virus.

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    CDC Waits For Congress To Approve Emergency Funds To Combat Zika

    NPR Frieden

    Click the tweet above or here to listen to Dr. Tom Frieden's NPR interview about the necessity for emergency funds to combat Zika.

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    Weekly CERC Teleconference: "First Local Zika Transmission"


    To address the communication concerns and needs of state, local, and territorial health communicators, as well as partner organizations, CDC is hosting a series of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) teleconferences related to Zika issues.

    These teleconferences will be held on a weekly basis beginning Tuesday, May 17, from 1-2 pm (Eastern Time). Each week, a new CERC topic will be presented as it relates to Zika.

    May 24 – CERC, Zika, and First Local Transmission: The speed at which you communicate new information to the public about a threat is a marker of your organization’s preparedness. We will share CERC concepts related to the principle: be first, and facilitate a discussion with participants as it relates to Zika. 

    Audio Conference Access Information:

    1-800-369-1662 (U.S. Callers)

    1-203-827-7082 (International Callers)

    Passcode: 3266392

    Presentation slides for this teleconference will be available on our website:  

    Please feel free to forward this announcement to your partners.

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    Communication Tips: "The Importance of Audience Feedback"

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    The Importance of Audience Feedback

    Audience feedback is a critical part of the communication process. It allows us—as public health communicators—to understand how our message is being received and how it is being interpreted. We then have the ability to adjust our message and improve its effectiveness. Although resources, especially time, are limited during emergencies, focusing some attention on feedback can help us share better information with the people who need it.

    So, how do we get audience feedback? We listen. Listening to your target population means making sure there are open lines of communication between your audience and your organization. Show the public you’re interested in what they have to say, and then give them an outlet to voice concerns or get more information. Provide the public with a free information hotline, an email address, or a place where they can access frequently asked questions.

    These exchanges can be very valuable to you as a communicator. They can help you understand:

    • What questions need answers
    • What is most upsetting
    • What information needs further explanation
    • Which public health recommendations aren’t working and should be changed

    Emergency communication is as much about delivering information as it is about receiving input that can enhance your messages to help people stay safe and well.

    In addition to collecting direct feedback, you can also monitor traditional and social media to get a sense of how the public feels about an emergency. Trending topics can be an indicator of major information gaps; tracking these conversations on the Internet, radio, or television can help inform your future communications.

    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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    Pregnant and worried about Zika? 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. Watch this video to learn more about preventing Zika:

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    The time to prepare is now. Zap Zika by practicing these four steps:

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    Find ways to help stop the spread of Zika in your community.  #FighttheZikaBite

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    Healthcare Providers: Help pregnant women cope with concerns about #Zika using these strategies →


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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


    Contact CDC-INFO

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

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