Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The Aedes mosquito are not found in Canada at this time. It has also been found to be transmitted in semen.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly (small head). There is no immunization (vaccine) or treatment for Zika virus.
Most areas with Zika virus activity are in Central and South America. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. Hilary McIver, the Manager, Infection Control and Risk Management at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre advises that there is a blood test that can be performed if it is known that individuals have travelled to affected areas and are exhibiting signs or symptoms of the virus. Individuals are treated for the signs and symptoms they exhibit.
New information about Zika virus is coming to light as more research is being done. For updates on where the virus is known to be and other news you can check the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), or the World Health Organization (WHO) websites.