Zika virus: 5 things you need to know

In November, Texas health officials announced the state's first likely case of Zika virus that was locally transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes. Cases of Zika have also been locally transmitted in Florida. Here are five things that the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response says you need to know about Zika:

  • Zika is a viral disease spread by a certain type of infected mosquito through vertical transmission from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby. There are also reports that Zika can be transmitted through blood transfusion, sexual exposure, or laboratory exposure.

  • The species of mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus exists in some Southern states of the United States, including Maryland.

  • Zika is usually a mild illness that requires no specific treatment.

  • If a pregnant woman contracts Zika, it can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. An infant born with microcephaly typically has a smaller than normal head size and incomplete brain development. There is also evidence that Zika may cause other fetal development problems in pregnancy.

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins University employees who plan to travel to Zika-affected areas should refer to the travel policy posted on CEPAR's website. If you plan to travel and are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, you should talk to your health care provider.

Go to the CEPAR website for more stories from the Hopkins on Alert newsletter, where this article first appeared.