Emergencies preparedness, response

Zika virus disease

Science in action – International Zika summit

Zika virus poses many questions and concerns for humanity. Scientists and experts are racing to understand the relationship between Zika virus infection and associated neurological complications. The Institut Pasteur, WHO and other partners convened researchers and public health experts working on this ongoing public health emergency to share preliminary results and discuss next steps. The international Zika summit took place at the Institut Pasteur, Paris on 25-26 April 2016, with more than 500 participants.

This short video captures some of the issues and ideas presented during the two-day summit.

Communities in Colombia step up their response to Zika virus disease

WHO/AMRO

Communities in Barranquilla, Colombia are actively responding to Zika virus and its potential complications through risk communication and community engagement activities as well as vector control.

Networks of health care workers and volunteers are raising awareness and engagement in schools and neighborhoods to promote prevention of the Zika virus by open discussions, educational games and even home visits.

"Fight Zika": using animation to spread the word

WHO supports governments and response agencies to communicate the risk from the Zika virus disease and its suspected complications to their citizens and visitors. In collaboration with Scientific Animators Without Borders (SAWBO), WHO has produced this "Fight Zika" video focusing on controlling the Aedes mosquito which transmits Zika as well as deadly diseases such as chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.

More language versions will follow for use in more than 60 countries currently affected by the outbreak of Zika.

Get the WHO Zika app for health care workers and the general public

WHO/U. Zhao

WHO’s Zika app aims to provide essential information on Zika virus disease and its potential complications. Designed primarily for health care workers and responders, the app can also be a source of real-time information for the general public.

Download and use the app on IOS or android and have easy-to-use information at your fingertips. Access WHO’s technical guidance and other useful resources, follow ongoing Zika related-research and development, stay updated about the latest news, and follow the international response to Zika. New content, including trainings will be added to the app in weeks to come.

Zika virus disease

WHO/AMRO

Zika is a virus spread to humans by Aedes mosquitoes - the same mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. It usually causes mild illness, with most people sick with the virus getting a slight fever and skin rash. Others may also get conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and feel tired. The symptoms usually finish in 2 to 7 days. The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites.

Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Key messages

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.


Key messages

  • People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples. Diagnosis by serology can be difficult as the virus can cross-react with other flaviviruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.

Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.


Key messages

  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.

Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.

This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.

Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.

During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. Insecticides recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers.

Travellers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.


Key messages

  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

Technical information

General information

Get the WHO Zika app

Designed to provide essential information on Zika virus disease and its suspected complications for the health care workers as well as the general public.

This page links all WHO information to its response on the Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Contact information

Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland