Public health guidance on Zika virus is updated as more information becomes known.
Zika is mainly spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Zika also can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through sexual contact and possibly through blood transfusion.
Take steps to prevent mosquito bites to lower your chance of infection. If you think you may have Zika, contact your health care provider.
Fairfax businesses can request printed materials for employees and customers .
Public Service Announcements
- Mosquito Source Reduction (0:60)
- Mosquito Bite Prevention (0:60)
- Mosquito Bite Prevention and Source Reduction (0:30)
- Virginia Department of Health: Tip Toss and Cover (0:30) - English | Spanish
- Virginia Department of Health: Protect Your Baby from the Zika Virus (0:30) - English | Spanish
- Zika Outbreak Frequently Asked Questions
- Article: Do Your Part from the Start! — Prevent and Protect Against Mosquitoes
- Media Release: State Officials Urge Virginians to Protect Themselves During Mosquito Season
- Hiring a Pest Professional
Areas at Risk
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have maps that show countries and territories where Zika has been reported, which include the Americas.
Zika cases in the continental U.S. usually involve travelers returning from Zika-affected areas. However, cases of local mosquitoes spreading Zika have been reported in South Florida and Brownsville, Texas. Currently, there are no CDC recommendations to avoid travel to these areas.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed its first reported travel related case of Zika infection in January 2016. For an updated count of Zika cases in Virginia, see VDH's Zika virus update.
There is no vaccine for Zika, but you can prevent Zika by avoiding avoid mosquito bites. CDC advises people to:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone. However, you should not use products with oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old. Apply insect repellent after applying sunscreen. Always follow label instructions.
- Treat clothing with permethrin (read product label) or purchase permethrin-treated clothing. Never apply permethrin to skin.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.
- Use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use air conditioning when available, or sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioning is not available.
- Empty standing water from containers such as buckets, bowls, flower pots and vases.
Get more information on preventing and protecting against mosquito bites.
If you suspect you may be infected with Zika, contact your health care provider, especially if you are pregnant. Even if you do not feel sick, take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks by staying indoors or wearing protective clothing and insect repellent. This will help prevent mosquitoes from biting you and spreading the virus to others in the community. Because Zika can be spread through sex, CDC has issued guidance for preventing Zika passed through sex.
Most people infected with Zika have no symptoms or only have mild symptoms, which can last up to a week. These symptoms include:
- Joint pain.
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes).
- Muscle pain.
Contact your health care provider if you have these symptoms and have recently visited a Zika-affected area.
Talk with your doctor if you experience any symptoms of Zika, especially if you are pregnant. Be sure to tell your doctor about any recent travel or any recent history of mosquito bites. Your doctor can help decide if you need to be tested for Zika based on symptoms, places and dates of travel, and other activities. A blood or urine test is used to check for Zika infection.
Health care providers who are concerned about a patient with Zika symptoms, travel history or recent mosquito bites should consult with their local health department about the need for testing a patient. In Fairfax County, health care providers can request testing using the online request form.
Please note: The Fairfax County Health Department does not draw specimens on individuals for Zika testing. The Health Department's role is to approve and coordinate testing requests from county health care providers for public health testing.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medications to treat Zika infections, but you can treat the symptoms:
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink fluids to stay hydrated.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until you know for sure that you are not infected with dengue virus — a disease you can get through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Zika and Pregnancy
Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects, including a serious brain defect called microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that have not properly developed, which may lead to a child having health, developmental and other problems.
CDC is advising pregnant women to avoid travel to areas with Zika. Pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should talk to their health care provider before traveling to areas with Zika and follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling.
Sexual Transmission of Zika
Zika can be passed from infected individuals to their sexual partners. Although sexual transmission of Zika is possible, mosquito bites remain the main way that Zika is spread to people. Because there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, the best way to avoid Zika infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes That Can Carry Zika
Zika is spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The Aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger mosquito, is common in Northern Virginia. Aedes species mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters.
Aedes mosquitoes lay their eggs in containers of water. To prevent mosquitoes in your yard, get rid of standing water. Tip and toss standing water from containers like tires, buckets, flower pots, drain pipes, tarps, bird baths and toys. Throw away containers or place indoors.
If you cannot dump water from a container, treat it with a larvicide like Bacillus thuringiensis var.israelensis (follow label instructions).
If mosquitoes are flying and biting, use insecticides in your yard to control them. Treat areas where they hide, like bushy green plants, ivy and bamboo (follow label instructions).
Get more information on preventing and protecting against mosquito bites.
Mosquito Surveillance and Control
Please note that the mosquito surveillance season has ended and
will start again in May 2017.
As part of its Zika response plan, the Fairfax County Health Department monitors for Zika within the Aedes species of mosquitoes through trapping and testing. Trapping stations are set up throughout the county on a weekly basis to collect adult mosquitoes. The Health Department's laboratory can test mosquito samples, or pools, for Zika. Mosquitoes can be submitted at any time during the week. The laboratory performs testing on Thursdays. Any jurisdictions that would like to contract for this service can contact the laboratory at 703-246-3218, TTY 711.
VDH publishes results of mosquito testing at sites throughout the state on its website each week, including results from Fairfax County. The data represent testing done by three different laboratories, including Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), the Fairfax County Health Department’s laboratory, and a laboratory at George Mason University. For weekly Zika mosquito surveillance results, see the reports section of VDH's mosquito-borne disease prevention and control web page.
The Health Department is taking steps to prevent local transmission of Zika. Activities include:
- Educating residents about mosquito bite prevention.
- Inspecting properties to eliminate mosquito breeding sites through source reduction.
- Conducting targeted larval control (application of a bacterial pesticide that kills mosquito larvae in the water before they become flying adults) for containers that can hold water but cannot be covered or emptied.
- Applying an EPA-approved barrier spray of liquid permethrin to vegetation (if necessary) to help control adult mosquitoes and protect public health.
Depending on human or mosquito surveillance findings, these activities could range from just one property to a wider area that might cover an entire neighborhood, or multiple neighborhoods.
- CDC Zika Virus Web Page
- CDC Zika Travel Notices
- CDC Zika Virus Information for Health Care Providers
- VDH Zika Virus Web Page
- VDH Zika Virus Information for Clinicians
- Zika Virus Disease Testing Procedures in Virginia
Clinical Testing for Zika
Health care providers, complete the Zika testing request form to request testing for patients.
Zika Pregnancy Registry
- About the Zika Pregnancy Registry
- Maternal Health History Form*
- Neonate Assessment at Delivery Form*
- Infant Follow-Up Form*
*Contact the Communicable Disease/Epidemiology Unit for the VA Zika ID.