Zika Virus

How are people infected with the Zika virus?

Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a person with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners. We encourage people who have traveled to, or live in places with active Zika transmission, to protect themselves by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites and practicing safe sex to avoid sexual transmission of Zika.

What are symptoms of Zika infection?

Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or only mild symptoms that last several days to a week. Symptoms of Zika infection include the following and would most likely occur within 2 weeks of departure from a Zika risk area:

  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Fever greater than 100 F
  • Muscle and/or joint aches or weakness
  • Eye pain including conjunctivitis (red eyes)

What health problems can result from getting Zika?

Zika infection during pregnancy has been associated with a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal neurological defects. Current research suggests that Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is also associated with Zika. Only a small proportion of people infected with the Zika virus infection will experience the aforementioned health problems.

Once someone has been infected with Zika, it's very likely they'll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.

Should I wait to donate if I have been at risk for exposure to Zika?

Individuals who have returned from an active Zika transmission area may donate. However, individuals who have been diagnosed with the Zika virus must wait four months from resolution of symptoms before donating.

Does Hoxworth Blood Center test for Zika?

Yes. Hoxworth Blood Center and other blood centers across the U.S., at the direction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are participating in a clinical trial of a test for Zika. This trial period is a necessary step before the test can join other FDA-approved tests for infectious diseases and viruses.

How long will this clinical trial last?

At this time we do not know how long the clinical trial will last. Once the test is approved for widespread use it will continue as part of our routine donor testing protocol.

What happens if my donation tests positive for Zika?

If you test positive, you will be notified of your test results and asked to return to Hoxworth for additional testing.