Hesperian Health Guides

Zika Virus

In this chapter:

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Zika may cause a mild fever, rash, irritated eyes, and body aches, usually for a few days only. However, most people who get Zika virus have no signs.

Signs of Zika
  • Low fever for 1 or 2 days, usually not over 38° (101°F)
  • Rash
  • Irritated or red eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Itching skin
  • Muscle pain and headache

Zika is usually mild and lasts just a few days or up to 1 week. Usually a person with Zika virus is not sick enough to need to go to a hospital.

Treatment can help you feel better.


To prevent Zika, avoid mosquito bites and practice community mosquito control. While most Zika comes from mosquito bites, it is possible for a man who has had Zika to pass it to a woman through sex. So in regions with Zika, using condoms during sex will help prevent it from spreading.

Zika and pregnancy

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Zika can be very dangerous for a baby growing in the womb. Zika can cause babies to be born with a serious condition called microcephaly, where the baby’s head is too small. Babies born to women with Zika in pregnancy may die at birth or may have problems developing physically and mentally. Fortunately, most of these babies will have not have problems. But all women, especially women who might be pregnant, should prevent mosquito bites—cover up with clothing, use mosquito repellents, and keep mosquitoes away by using screens and bednets in the home.

If there is a Zika outbreak where you live and you want to get pregnant, you can consider waiting until the outbreak ends. Communities can ensure that birth control is made accessible to all women to limit harm from the Zika virus (see the chapter on Family Planning and the book Health Actions for Women).

a man speaking
When we wanted a baby, we stopped using condoms. Now my wife is pregnant and because there is Zika here, we take care not to get mosquito bites and we are using condoms again to protect the baby!

Because Zika virus can be passed between men and women during sex, where there is Zika, use condoms to prevent passing Zika virus. If the woman is already pregnant, it is especially important that she either avoids sex or that she and her partner use condoms to prevent her from getting Zika while pregnant.

In an area with no Zika from mosquitoes, a woman can still get Zika from sex if her partner has traveled to an area with Zika. He should use condoms for at least 6 months after his return to prevent spreading Zika virus through sex.

No babies have gotten Zika from breast milk. Even if you have had Zika, breastfeeding is the best way to nourish and protect your baby’s health.

This page was updated:14 Sep 2020