Zika Virus Questions and Answers

Here are some important questions and answers about Zika Virus:

1. What kind of virus is Zika virus?

Zika virus is a positive(+) sense, single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus.

It is an enveloped virus with an icosahedral nucleocapsid.


Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) with arrow showing a Zika virus particle with an outer envelope and an inner dense core.


2. How is it transmitted?

  • The primary route of transmission to humans is through the bite of an infected mosquito. (Aedes species)

  • Perinatal, in utero, sexual, and transfusion transmission events have also been reported.


 Note: The same Aedes species mosquito transmits dengue and chikungunya viruses.


3. What are the clinical symptoms?

Approximately 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become symptomatic. Clinical symptoms include the acute onset of :

  • Fever

  • Maculopapular rash that often starts on the face and then spreads to the body

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Arthralgia

  • Myalgia

  • Headache

Clinical illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

 “Because of similar geographic distribution and symptoms, patients with suspected Zika virus infections also should be evaluated and managed for possible dengue or chikungunya virus infection. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage.” - CDC


4. What are some important suspected associations?

  • There have been reports of congenital microcephaly in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

  • There may be an association with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.



5. How is Zika virus infection diagnosed?

Preliminary diagnosis is based on the patient’s clinical findings, travel history, and activities.

Lab Diagnosis:

  • Zika virus RNA detected in an acutely ill patients serum by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

  • Positive Zika virus IgM with confirmatory neutralizing antibody titers

    • Antibodies typically develop toward the end of the first week of illness

    • Cross-reaction with related flaviviruses (ie. dengue) is common



6. What is the current treatment?

  • Supportive.

  • No vaccinations are available yet.

  • Prevention by avoiding exposure to mosquitos.



7. Will it be on my exam?

This is the burning question for medical students. If it's in the news... it's sexy!   So there's a good chance you might run into a question on the exam.


So here's a summary of the most testable points:

  • Enveloped, iscosahedral, (+) sense, ssRNA virus.

  • Transmitted primarily by the same mosquitos that transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses.

  • Associated with congenital microcephaly!

  • Diagnosed by RT-PCR and/or serology.


Time for some fun:


Photo credits: 


#35 SNP 2016-05-12 05:23
Thank you doc. For current question :-)
#34 AC Brown 2016-05-02 21:19
Quoting Frankie W:
Great, now I can't enjoy unprotected sex when on vacation in Latin America and the Caribbean anymore. :sad:

Like somebody wanted to have sex with you!lol
#33 SNP 2016-05-02 15:31
Thanx doc for current Ques
#32 Ozzy 2016-05-02 13:50
Thank you! Great information
#31 Angad 2016-05-02 07:28
:lol: thanks Dr. Barone
#30 Safanah 2016-05-02 04:41
Since I met you last summer you become our rock star ..me and my friend can't stop making cute sexy mnemonic for almost every thing ..thank you so much dr.barone
#29 Ross R 2016-05-02 02:58
#28 Mile N 2016-05-02 02:57
Really good thank you Doc Barone
#27 dennis hogan 2016-03-18 04:29
this is super awesome. I can't wait to find it on the test! :lol:
#26 Em C 2016-02-04 22:37
Category: Microbiology Mnemonics

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