Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Zika virus is a flavivirus closely related to other mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and West Nile virus. Aedes aegypti and potentially Aedes albopictus mosquitos transmit Zika virus, which can also transmit dengue fever and chikungunya virus infections. There is growing evidence that Zika virus infection can also be sexually transmitted.
Following the bite of an infected mosquito, symptoms usually appear in 3–12 days, with patients displaying fever, joint and muscle pain, skin rash, conjunctivitis and headache. Zika virus infection is considered a mild illness that generally resolves within 2–7 days; 75–80% of people infected with Zika virus do not display symptoms. The World Health Organization has stated that Zika virus infection is causally linked with microcephaly (incomplete brain development), other fetal malformations and Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
There is no antiviral treatment for Zika virus infection. Treatment options are supportive, including antipyretics (medications to control fever), fluids to prevent dehydration and rest. For additional treatment information see the Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) Canadian Recommendations on the Prevention and Treatment of Zika Virus
Public Health Ontario has been working with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Public Health Agency of Canada and other partners on monitoring and assessing Zika virus infection.
Members of the public concerned about Zika virus should contact their health care provider. Health care providers concerned about Zika virus should refer to the below resources or contact their local public health unit.
Please note, the availability and recommendations for Zika testing may change as the situation evolves. For additional information, please see the PHO Zika virus fact sheet.