UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Infectious Disease

Title: Zika Update: Signs and Symptoms

Keywords: Zika, arbovirus, infectious disease, mosquitos (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/31/2016 by Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD
Click here to contact Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD

Zika virus and its transmission is currently an important infectious disease topic in the United States and the Western Hemisphere.  With domestic spread in the Continental United States, and the likely further spread to other parts of the southern United States, continued vigilance by healthcare providers remains important.


What are the signs and symptoms of Zika?


Most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Arthralgias
  • Conjunctivitis (generally nonpurulent)


Other symptoms can include

  • Myalgias
  • Headaches
  • Retro-orbital pain
  • Gastrointestinal upset


Symptoms can generally last 2 to 7 days.  Most individuals will have minimal or no significant symptoms and may not seek medical care. These symptoms are similar to other arboviruses, such as dengue or chikungunya. Potential serious complications include Guillian Barre syndrome.


Of course, the main concern remains infection of pregnant women and the impact that Zika has on the developing fetus, especially for the brain.



Shastry S, Koenig KL, Hirshon JM. Zika Virus: Critical Information for Emergency Providers. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2016 Aug;34(3):e25-37.