What is Zika Virus: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Cure and Preventions | Max Hospital

To Book an Appointment

Call Us+91 92688 80303

What is Zika Virus: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Cure and Preventions

By Dr. Monica Mahajan in Internal Medicine

Jun 27 , 2024 | 4 min read

The Zika virus, first identified in Uganda in 1947, has emerged as a significant global health concern over the past decade. With its vast population and diverse climate, India is no exception to this threat. To safeguard public health, it is important to understand the symptoms, prevention methods, and treatment options for the Zika virus.

What is Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a flavivirus primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti. In 1947, scientists discovered the virus in a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda. By 1952, the first human cases were detected in Uganda and Tanzania, confirmed through the presence of antibodies in blood samples. Since then, the virus has caused numerous outbreaks worldwide. The virus can be spread through sexual contact, blood transfusion, and from mother to foetus during pregnancy.

Zika Virus Symptoms

The symptoms of Zika virus infection are generally mild and often resemble other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue and chikungunya. They usually appear 2 to 14 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus and can last several days to a week. Common Zika virus symptoms include:

  • Fever: A low-grade fever is often one of the first signs of Zika infection.
  • Rash: A red, itchy rash often spreads across the body, starting from the face and moving downwards.
  • Joint pain: Many patients experience joint pain, particularly in the hands and feet, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Conjunctivitis: It is also known as pink eye and can cause redness and irritation in the eyes.

Zika Virus Causes

The primary cause of Zika virus infection is the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Other causes include:

  • Sexual transmission: The virus can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
  • Maternal transmission: An infected pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her foetus, potentially leading to severe birth defects.
  • Blood transfusion: There is a potential risk of Zika virus transmission through blood transfusions.

Zika Virus Prevention

Preventing Zika virus infection involves measures to reduce mosquito bites and minimise the risk of transmission. Key prevention strategies include:

  • Mosquito control: Eliminating mosquito breeding sites, such as standing water in containers, can significantly reduce mosquito populations.
  • Personal protection: Using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and sleeping under mosquito nets can help prevent bites.
  • Safe sexual practices: Using condoms and abstaining from sex with infected partners can reduce sexual transmission.
  • Travel precautions: Pregnant women should avoid travelling to areas with active Zika virus transmission.

Zika Virus Treatment

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus infection. Management focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the patient's immune system. Recommended treatment includes:

  • Rest: Patients are advised to rest adequately to help the body recover from the infection.
  • Hydration: It is important to drink sufficient fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if fever and sweating are present.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen can help reduce fever and pain. One must avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to the risk of bleeding complications.
  • Medical monitoring: Pregnant women diagnosed with Zika require close medical monitoring to assess the health and development of the foetus. Ultrasounds and other tests may be conducted to detect any abnormalities.
  • Avoiding mosquito bites: Patients should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites to prevent further virus spread, especially within the first week of illness when the virus can be found in the blood.

Read more- Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy

Impact of Zika Virus in India

The Zika virus has had a great effect on India, particularly since the first outbreak was reported in 2016 in Gujarat. Since then, several other states, such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala, have reported cases. While the incidence remains relatively low compared to other mosquito-borne diseases, the tropical climate and dense population create a high-risk environment for widespread transmission. Healthcare professionals emphasise the importance of early diagnosis and mosquito control measures to mitigate the virus's impact, especially among pregnant women. It is important to increase awareness and implement preventive measures to effectively manage and minimise the health risks of Zika virus in India.


The Zika virus remains a significant public health challenge, particularly in tropical regions like India, where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent. Individuals can seek timely medical attention and avoid complications by understanding the symptoms. Preventive measures, including mosquito control and personal protection, are important to reduce the spread of the virus. While no specific treatment exists, supportive care and symptom management can aid recovery. Enhanced public awareness and coordinated health efforts are essential in mitigating the impact of the Zika virus and safeguarding the health of vulnerable populations, particularly pregnant women and their unborn children.


What is Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. Transmission can also occur through blood transfusion, sexual contact, and from mother to foetus during pregnancy.

What happens if you get Zika Virus?

Most Zika virus infections result in moderate symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. However, infection during pregnancy can result in severe birth abnormalities, including microcephaly.

What other problems can the Zika virus cause?

The Zika virus has the potential to result in birth defects if a foetus is infected. This can hinder the growth of the brain and potentially lead to microcephaly. Additionally, Zika infection in a foetus could result in various issues, such as hearing and vision impairments, cognitive challenges, and developmental disorders.

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a rare condition in which the baby's head is abnormally small. This is due to the baby's abnormal brain growth in the womb or the brain stopped growing after birth. Babies and children with microcephaly frequently experience difficulties with brain development as they grow older. Zika virus infection during pregnancy is one of the causes of microcephaly.

Is there a vaccine available for Zika Virus? 

Currently, there are no vaccines approved against the Zika virus. Prevention primarily relies on avoiding mosquito bites and practising safe practices, especially in areas where Zika virus is prevalent.

Written and Verified by: