What is Zika Virus?

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The Zika virus arrived in the United States in 2016, with local transmission reported in and around Miami, FL, and Brownsville, TX.The virus causes birth defectsin babies born to some infected pregnant women, including microcephaly, where babies are born with underdeveloped heads and brain damage. Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. It’s mainly spread through mosquitoes, although some cases of sexual transmission have been reported.

The CDC continues to issue travel warnings for pregnant women in countries where the disease is spreading.

What is Zika? How can you avoid it? WebMD answers your questions.

What Is the Zika Virus? How Do You Catch It?

The Zika virus, first identified in Uganda in 1947, is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, the same type of mosquito that carries dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya virus. A mosquito bites an infected person and then passes those viruses to other people it bites. Outbreaks did not occur outside of Africa until 2007, when it spread to the South Pacific.

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