The Mount Sinai Health System is committed to providing accurate, scientific information about the Zika virus. The health and safety of our patients, their families, and our employees are of utmost importance, and we are actively monitoring this evolving situation. The information on this page is intended as a resource for patients, community physicians, and other health care partners.
Zika Virus: What you should know
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is primarily transmitted through infected mosquitos; however, sexual transmission has been described. It is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and West Nile virus and is common in Africa and Asia. It did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until May 2015, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.
What are the signs and symptoms of Zika virus?
- The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
- The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is thought to be a few days to a week.
- There is no vaccine to prevent disease, and there is no antiviral treatment for a Zika virus infection.
- Patients with general inquiries or concerns about Zika should contact their primary care physician.
Who is at risk for Zika virus?
Zika presents the greatest risk to pregnant women because the virus can spread from the mother to her baby. This may increase a baby’s risk of developing microcephaly, a condition in which the baby’s head size is smaller than normal due to abnormal brain development. It can also increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Pregnant women who are concerned they might have been exposed to the Zika virus should contact their obstetricians immediately. If you are considering pregnancy and are concerned that you might have been exposed or are considering travel to a region where the Zika virus has been reported, talk with your primary care physician or gynecologist before trying to conceive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises women who are pregnant to consider postponing travel to these areas. If you have traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission, we advise you to wait eight weeks before trying to conceive. If your male partner has traveled to an area where Zika virus is present, consider talking to your doctor about testing for the disease before trying to conceive.
Is protection available against Zika?
There is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus or medicine to treat the infection. If you must travel to an affected region (Zika outbreaks have been reported in Mexico; Central America; South America; in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bonaire, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa; the Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga; and parts of Florida – for the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zika website), you should protect yourself against mosquito bites. The type of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is most likely to bite in the daytime. Wear long sleeves and pants while outdoors and use an insect repellent that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, such as one containing DEET.
Knowledge regarding the details of the Zika virus is evolving rapidly, and we continue to work closely with the New York City Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health to ensure we are following current health department and CDC recommendations for patient evaluation and care. Please visit the following websites or call the information line below for the most up to date Zika virus information.
- New York State Department of Health Zika Information line 1-888-364-4723
- New York City Department of Health Zika website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zika website