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Sutter County Public Health Zika Virus Information


Zika Virus Information

What is Zika?

  • Zika is a disease caused by the Zika Virus, a flavivirus that is part of the same arbovirus family as yellow fever, West Nile, and dengue fever.
  • Zika was first identified in Uganda in 1947, and has spread across East Africa, the Pacific, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
  • Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, Pacific Islands, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

Zika in Two Minutes - Animated Infographics


What are the Symptoms of Zika?


Zika symptoms Once exposed to Zika it will take anywhere from 2-7 days to display symptoms, however, there is no confirmed incubation period.

Symptoms of Zika infection include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjuntivitis (red eyes)
  • Other symptoms can include muscle pain and headache

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.

Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be immune to future infections.

Only 1 in 4 people infected with Zika Virus display symptoms, and most symptoms are mild. Most people infected with Zika virus aren’t aware that they have it.

That Doesn’t Sound Too Bad. Why is Sutter County Concerned About Zika?


While most symptoms of Zika are mild, we are concerned about the possibility of serious pregnancy complications and Guillain-Barré Syndrome.


Pregnancy Complications

  • One major birth defect that has been associated with Zika virus infection is microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size
  • Other potential pregnancy complications include stillbirth or miscarriage, and other growth restrictions
  • While it is not understood for sure how Zika may cause birth defects, research to date shows that Zika can infect developing brain cells and kill them
  • While it has not been definitively proven that Zika causes microcephaly, increases in microcephaly rates have been seen in both this current Zika outbreak, and the one in French Polynesia in 2013
  • It is not known when in a pregnancy a woman and her unborn child are most vulnerable to Zika causing birth defects or how likely it is for birth defects to develop if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika
  • Because Zika may result in serious birth defects with lifelong consequences for the child, or the loss of the pregnancy, we are seriously concerned about possible Zika infections in pregnant women, or women who might become pregnant

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis
  • Increased numbers of people who have been infected with Zika virus who also have GBS have been reported in both Brazil during this outbreak, and in French Polynesia in 2013
  • It is not known how likely it is to develop GBS if you are infected with Zika, or whether you can get GBS without other symptoms of Zika
  • GBS symptoms include weakness of the arms and legs that is usually the same on both sides of the body. In some cases, the muscles of the face that control eye movement or swallowing may also become weak. In the most serious cases, this muscle weakness can affect breathing, and people sometimes need a breathing tube to help them breathe
  • These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. Although most people fully recover from GBS, some people have permanent damage, and in 1 out of 20 cases people have died
  • GBS is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections
  • An estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people, or 1-2 cases for every 100,000 people, develop GBS each year in the United States from all causes. Most cases of GBS occur for no known reason, and true “clusters” of cases of GBS are very unusual

How Can I Get Zika?


Mosquito Bites

Aedes Aegypti - The Yellow Fever Mosquito
Aedes aegypti – The Yellow Fever Mosquito
Commonly identified by the white lyre shaped markings on its back

Aedes Aegypti
Aedes albopictus – The Asian Tigermoth Mosquito
Commonly identified by the white stripe behind their head and banded legs

The main way people get Zika is through bites from an infected mosquito.

Zika virus is transmitted by two Aedes species mosquitoes: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These are the same mosquitoes that spread yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses.

These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.

They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.

These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night.

Mother to Child Transmission

A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth.

A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

Sexual Transmission

Sexual transmission of Zika virus is not well understood.

Men can spread Zika to their sex partners, though it is unknown at this time if women can transmit Zika through sex.

To date, in known cases of likely sexual transmission, the men had Zika symptoms. We do not know if men who do not have symptoms can transmit Zika. We also do not know whether Zika can be transmitted sexually before symptoms develop, or how long an infected person can transmit Zika. It is also not known how long Zika virus lasts in semen; therefore, we do not know how long a man can transmit Zika sexually.

Only people whose male sex partners have traveled to or live in an area with active Zika transmission are at risk for sexual transmission of Zika virus.

Blood Transfusions

As of February 1, 2016, there are no reports of Zika being transmitted through blood transfusions in the United States. However, people have been infected with Zika through blood transfusions in Brazil.

In a previous outbreak in French Polynesia, 2.8% of blood donors tested positive for Zika.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responsibility for the US blood supply, and is taking very proactive steps to protect it. Blood donation centers also screen blood donors for Zika infection risk.

Discuss your complete travel history, everywhere you have been within the last few months, with the blood donation center before you donate blood. Specifically inform the blood bank if you have travelled anywhere with active Zika transmission, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Zika virus currently poses a low risk to the US blood supply, but this could change depending on how many people in the United States become infected with the virus.

What About my Pets? Can They Get Zika, or Give it to Me?

  • At this time, animals do not seem to be involved in the Zika outbreak
  • There have not been any reports of pets or other types of animals becoming sick with Zika
  • There is no evidence that Zika virus is spread to people from contact with animals
  • Pets in the United States are not at risk of becoming sick with Zika
  • Monkeys and other nonhuman primates can be infected with Zika. However, monkeys are illegal to keep as pets in California, and all monkeys or other primates imported into the United States undergo mandatory 31-day quarantine. This is longer than the Zika incubation period in primates

Can I Get Zika Here in Sutter County? What About Other Parts of California?


Aedes Distribution Map
Click image for enlarged PDF view 
To spread Zika, an area has to have both the right mosquitos and enough people who have Zika to infect the mosquitoes. This is termed active transmission.

As of March 11th, 2016, the mosquitoes that spread Zika are not found in Butte, Colusa, Sutter or Yuba counties. There are also no cases of Zika in Sutter or surrounding counties at this time. At present, you cannot get Zika in Sutter County from mosquito bites. For updated information on where in California the mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus can be found, please click on the map image link to the right.

The mosquitos that spread Zika have been identified in other parts of California, including the Bay Area, the Central Valley south of Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. As of March 11th, there are only 11 confirmed cases of Zika in all of California, and none were infected in California. At present, it is highly unlikely that you could get Zika in other parts of California.

Where Can I Get Zika?


Anyone who lives in or travels to an area where Zika virus is found and has not already had Zika virus is at risk.

Zika in the Americas Zika World Map 

Click an image above to view enlarged PDF version 

As of March 16, 2016, active Zika transmission is reported in 34 countries in Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa:

  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Bonaire
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Marshall Islands
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • New Caledonia
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • Saint Maarten
  • Suriname
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Venezuela

Active Zika transmission is also reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. To date, no US state has active Zika transmission.

The mosquitoes that spread Zika generally do not live at elevations greater than 6,500 feet. If the entirety of your trip is above that elevation – including driving or airports – you are at low risk for Zika infection. However, if your trip includes parts of a country with active Zika transmission, you could be at risk for Zika infection.

As the Zika outbreak develops, the list of countries with active Zika transmission will change. For the most up to date travel information, visit the CDC Zika travel information website.

How Can I Protect Myself and my Family from Zika?


There is currently no vaccine for Zika virus.

The best way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites. You can do so through:


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items:
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washing. See product information to learn how long the protection will last
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully
  • DO NOT use permethrin products directly on skin

Indoor Protection

  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes inside
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors


Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are safe and effective for even pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • Always follow the product label instructions, including those stating minimum age of use on children
  • Reapply as directed
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent

For Your Home

Although our county doesn’t contain the mosquitoes that carry Zika virus, it is still important to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in and around your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.

Sexual Transmission of Zika is Also Possible

Men who reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission who have a pregnant partner should abstain from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms during sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Pregnant women should discuss their male partner’s potential exposures to mosquitoes and history of Zika-like illness with their health care provider. Men who reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission who are concerned about sexual transmission of Zika virus might consider abstaining from sexual activity or using condoms consistently and correctly during sex. At present, it is not known how long Zika virus can persist in semen, and therefore how long an infected person can transmit it sexually.

What Should I do if I am Going Somewhere with Active Zika Transmission?


If you are travelling somewhere with active Zika transmission, take special precautions to prevent mosquito bites during the trip, and for at least three weeks after you return.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes special consideration for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant . If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it is recommended that you consider delaying your trip to an area with active Zika transmission.

Women trying to get pregnant and their male partners should talk to their healthcare provider before traveling to areas with Zika. Because sexual transmission is possible, both men and women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

What Do I Do if I Think I Have Zika?

  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika infections, however the symptoms can be managed
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you develop Zika symptoms, have a sexual partner with Zika symptoms, or are pregnant and have visited an area where Zika is found. Because Zika testing has a specific time window, it is very important you see your doctor as soon as possible
  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled. Your provider must have complete information about where you traveled in California, in the United States, and in other nations
  • Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya

Who Should Get Tested for Zika?


Anyone who has Zika symptoms and one of the following situations:

  • Travelled to an area with local Zika transmission, or
  • Had sex with someone who has recently travelled to an area with active Zika transmission

Pregnant women who do not have symptoms and one of the following situations:

  • Traveled to an area with local Zika transmission, or
  • Whose male sexual partner has Zika symptoms

Testing needs to be done as soon as possible. If you have symptoms, the most accurate Zika virus testing can only be performed within one week of the onset of symptoms. Pregnant women with no symptoms but at risk should be tested between 2 and 12 weeks after leaving the area known to have Zika virus.

If you have not traveled to an area known to have Zika virus and if you have not had sexual contact with an at risk individual, you are not at risk.

How Do I Get Tested and Treated for Zika?


If you are worried you might have Zika virus consult with your healthcare provider immediately. Your healthcare provider can collaborate with the Sutter County Public Health Department to arrange and complete Zika virus lab testing.

Where Can I Learn More About Zika?

  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika home page provides additional information about Zika, including health updates, status of the outbreak, specific guidance for pregnant women and areas with active Zika transmission
  • The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy maintains a Zika news and resource repository
  • Sutter-Yuba Mosquito and Vector Control District is our local mosquito control agency. Their website provides additional information on mosquitoes in Sutter County and how you can help keep them away

Information for Healthcare Providers

  • Zika is a mandatory reportable condition. If you suspect a patient may have been exposed to Zika virus, contact the appropriate county health department immediately
  • Sutter County Public Health has guidance  on the process of requesting Zika testing for a patient
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika Health Care Provider’s website provides additional guidance on diagnosis, symptom treatment, and managing Zika in pregnant women, children and infants