Zika Virus Disease is caused by a flavivirus that spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth, and possibly through sexual contact. Zika Virus Disease is usually mild and short-term, with the most common symptoms being fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). 4 out of 5 of those infected do not experience noticeable symptoms, and very few become sick enough to go to the hospital. Very rare cases may result in Guillain-Barre syndrome or other serious outcomes.
There have been recent reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head and brain are significantly smaller than typical) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus early in pregnancy.
The UNC Health Science Library has created a resource page with information about the Zika virus. In addition, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt and three experts held an event titled “The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know” on June 30, 2016. A video of that event is available below.