What Do We Know About Zika?

15 February 2016

With the World Health Organization declaring the recent cluster of neurological disorders and neonatal malformations cases as a global health emergency – due to its suspected link to the mosquito-borne Zika virus – the United Nations Population Fund and its partners are closely monitoring the situation to underline the potentially adverse effects it has on the health of women and babies.


While everyone should take steps to avoid exposure to the Zika virus, pregnant women and those of childbearing age should take extra care to avoid exposure to mosquito bites, use insecticide-treated mosquito nets and apply insect repellents approved for use in pregnant women. Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes – the same mosquitoes that spread dengue.


Between one in four to one in five people infected with the Zika virus develops symptoms, and among those with symptoms, the illness is usually mild. As there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Zika virus infection, treatment for everyone, including pregnant women, is directed at alleviating symptoms.


Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are urged to seek prenatal care to receive information and monitoring of their pregnancy and to follow their doctors’ recommendations.


Women who don't want to become pregnant should be advised to use contraceptives. Those who want to become pregnant should be monitored and advised to increase preventive measures, as mentioned above.


Current information on the transmission from mothers to babies during pregnancy or childbirth is very limited. Research is currently under way on possible mother-to-child transmission of the virus and its effects on babies. Pregnant women in general, and particularly those who develop symptoms of the Zika virus infection, should be closely monitored by health providers. In all cases, women, including those who are pregnant, should be able to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health services in accordance to national laws and policies.


While Indonesia’s Ministry of Health has not officially confirmed any cases of Zika in the country, the Government has issued a travel warning advising pregnant women to avoid travelling to countries with confirmed cases of Zika or to take extra precautions against mosquito bites.  


Information on the virus has also been disseminated across public health centres and at entry points across Indonesia through the Port Health Office (KKP) at all airports and ports across Indonesia.


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  • Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific.


For additional information about the Zika virus, please visit: