Frequently Asked Questions for Patients

What is Zika and how would I get it?

Zika is a viral infection that is primarily spread by being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika can also be spread from sexual contact with an infected partner or from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Most people (80%) who get infected with the Zika virus don’t have any symptoms. Those that do have symptoms may have a fever, rash, joint pain, headache or red eyes. Symptoms are usually mild and last for up to a week. There is no specific treatment. Generally fluids, rest and acetaminophen for pain can help. If you think you may have been infected with Zika, you are not contagious to those around you. You should talk with your healthcare provider about testing.

Zika can also cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly and absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth for a developing fetus if a pregnant woman is infected. Rarely, Zika virus can also cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks nerves. 

What is the best way to prevent Zika infection?

The best way to prevent a Zika infection is to prevent getting bitten by an infected mosquito. There has been local transmission of Zika in the continental US, but most of the people in the US who have been infected with Zika have been infected during travel. If you are planning to travel to an area outside of the United States with Zika transmission, you can make an appointment with the Emory TravelWell Center by calling 404-686-5885. Those traveling to affected areas in Florida should review current travel advice to this area: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/intheus/florida-update.html.

People who travel to or live in areas with local mosquito transmission should use insect repellent, wear protective clothes and take steps to decrease mosquitos in your home or when travelling.

Zika is also sexually transmitted; it is important to use condoms or do not have sex.

You may also want to consider using contraception if you are not seeking pregnancy. 

I am pregnant (or my partner is pregnant); what should I know?

There are many knowns and unknowns about pregnancy and Zika infection. We are learning more every day. Keep talking to your healthcare provider for new information.

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/zika-what-we-know-infographic.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/zika-positive-test.pdf

Pregnant women should delay travel to areas with Zika if possible. The CDC updates areas that have local transmission. That information is found here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html

Pregnant women should avoid mosquito bites and avoid sex or use condoms when having sex if their partner has traveled to or lives in an area with local transmission. If there is local transmission in your area, you should use condoms throughout your pregnancy.

I’m not pregnant, but I might want to be. What should I do?

Talk with a healthcare provider. Planning your pregnancy is the first step to having a healthy pregnancy. If you or your partner have been exposed to or infected with Zika, delaying pregnancy is recommended. To set up an appointment to talk with an Ob/Gyn at the Emory Clinic about planning your pregnancy, call 404-778-3401.

If you or your partner are not pregnant but want to avoid getting Zika from sex:

You can use condoms every time you have sex or not have sex after your partner returns from travel. The length of time for taking these precautions depends on your partner:

  • If your male or female partner does not have Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 8 weeks after his or her return.
  • If your female partner has Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 8 weeks after her symptoms started.
  • If your male partner has Zika or Zika symptoms: at least 6 months after his symptoms started. Zika stays in semen longer than other body fluids and can be passed to a man’s partners during that time. 

I don’t want to get pregnant now, what are my options?

Adding a hormonal method or IUD in addition to condoms will give you additional pregnancy prevention. There are many great options; you can work with your healthcare provider to find the one that’s best for you. Visiting a website like www.bedsider.org can help you learn more about the different methods available before your visit. 

Several clinicians at the Emory Clinic can help you with your birth control needs. Appointments with clinicians within the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, including Family Planning specialists, can be made by calling 404-778-3401. Appointments with Emory Primary Care can be made online http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/locations/primary-care-clinics/index.html or by calling 404-778-7777.

Additional clinical resources for contraceptive care include:

How do I pay for my birth control?

The Affordable Care Act ensures that your insurance provider will cover contraception without a co-pay. If you do not have insurance, you may be eligible for Georgia’s Family Planning Waiver, Planning for Healthy Babies. This can cover the cost of contraceptive services and supplies.

http://www.p4hb.org/Static/Benefits.aspx

I am a male; what do I need to know?

Males should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to be aware that Zika can be transmitted from you to your partner. This may be particularly important if your partner is pregnant or thinking about pregnancy. Condom use is very important to prevent sexual transmission. Couples who are not interested in conceiving should also consider using dual methods. Condoms plus a hormonal method or IUD can prevent unintended pregnancy and mother-to-fetus Zika transmission.

Guidelines for couples who live in or have traveled to an area with Zika

For People Who Have Traveled to an Area with Zika

 

If You Have Symptoms or Were Diagnosed with Zika

If You Have No Symptoms

If you are pregnant

Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika. If you must travel to an area with Zika, talk to your healthcare provider. 

If your partner is pregnant

Use condoms correctly, every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy.

If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy

Discuss your plans for pregnancy with a healthcare provider to determine your risk and the options available.

If you or your partner are not pregnant and are not planning a pregnancy

Men - consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin.

Women- consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after symptoms begin.

Men and Women - consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after returning from travel.


For People Living in an Area with Zika

 

If You Have Symptoms or Were Diagnosed with Zika

If You Have No Symptoms

If you or your partner are pregnant

Use condoms from start to finish, every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy.

It is also very important to see a healthcare provider to discuss your options during pregnancy. 

If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy

Discuss your plans for pregnancy with a healthcare provider to determine your risk and the options available.

If you or your partner are not pregnant and are not planning a pregnancy

Men – consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin.

Women- consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after symptoms begin.

Men and Women - consider using condoms or not having sex as long as there is Zika in the area.  If either you or your partner develop symptoms of Zika or have concerns, talk to a healthcare provider and follow the guidelines on the left.

What else do I need to know about mosquito bites?

Not all mosquitos transmit Zika, but two types of the mosquitos that are best known to transmit Zika (aedes species) are found in Georgia. This type of mosquito is attracted to standing water and waste. It is often an urban dweller and can live inside the home. During their lifetime, these mosquitoes do not travel far from where they hatch. It is a daytime biter, but can bite all at any time. The Georgia Department of Public Health recommends that all Georgians “Tip N Toss” to avoid standing water for mosquito breeding grounds. 

What products can I use to prevent Zika from mosquito bites?

It is recommended to select EPA registered products that contain 20-30% DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, or picaridin. These products are safe during pregnancy.

http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_travelers.pdf

The EPA has a search tool for identifying products that can work for you.

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-insect-repellent-right-you#search%20tool

In Georgia, Peachstate Health Plan provides coverage for insect repellant for its members. http://www.pshpgeorgia.com/2016/07/29/important-benefit-update-insect-spray-coverage/

The State of Georgia is also taking steps to protect you, too. Read more here:

https://dph.georgia.gov/zika-virus-awareness-campaign

How does the mosquito get Zika?

Mosquitos get Zika from biting an infected human. Then, the mosquito bites another person and infects that person. When this happens and infects humans where they normally are (without travel), this is called local transmission. It is important for you not let a mosquito get infected from you!! So, if you have traveled to an area with Zika, use mosquito repellent for 3 weeks after you return home. Similarly, if you think you’ve been infected with Zika, you should continue to use repellant while you’re infected and for a week after to avoid mosquito bites