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Zika virus: Essential facts to know

Media Contact

Mary Beth Spence
Senior Manager, Media Relations

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital infectious disease physician Mitchell Blass, MD provides answers to the most commonly asked questions concerning the Zika virus, which is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.

According to Blass, Zika is not a new disease. “The Zika virus was actually discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda,” he says. In 2007, during an outbreak of Zika on a small island in Micronesia, it was discovered that pregnant women infected with the virus in the first trimester were delivering babies with microcephaly. “This is the first virus associated with a congenital birth defect in over 50 years,” he added.

The World Health Organization states that Zika has spread to more than 34 countries and territories and the mosquito is found in some areas of the United States.

Other questions Blass discusses include:

  • How do you get the Zika virus?
  • How is the virus transmitted?
  • What are the symptoms of Zika?
  • Can Zika virus be sexually transmitted?
  • How is Zika different from other mosquito borne illnesses?
  • Can Zika virus be fatal?
  • Should we be concerned with an epidemic of Zika in the U.S.?How serious are the risks of Zika to pregnant women?
  • Is there a cure for Zika virus?
  • Can you develop an immunity to Zika?

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