Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe any international trips in detail, including the countries you and your sexual partner have visited, the dates of travel, and whether you may have had contact with mosquitoes.
If your doctor suspects that you may have a Zika virus infection, he or she may recommend a blood or urine test to confirm the diagnosis. The blood or urine samples can also be used to test for other, similar mosquito-borne diseases.
If you are pregnant and don't have symptoms of Zika virus infection but you or your partner recently traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission, ask your doctor if you need to be tested.
If you are pregnant and at risk of Zika virus infection, your doctor may also recommend one of the following procedures:
- An ultrasound to look for fetal brain problems
- Amniocentesis, which involves inserting a hollow needle into the uterus to remove a sample of amniotic fluid (amniocentesis) to be tested for the Zika virus
There is no specific treatment for infection with the Zika virus. To help relieve symptoms, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. The over-the-counter (OTC) medication acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help relieve joint pain and fever.
The symptoms of Zika virus infection are similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever. If you're feeling ill after recent travel to an area where mosquito-borne illness is common, see your doctor. Don't take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or aspirin until your doctor has ruled out dengue fever. These medications can increase the risk of serious complications from dengue fever.
Preparing for your appointment
You'll likely start by seeing your primary care doctor. But you might be referred to a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases or travel medicine.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to discuss, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information. List your international travel history, with dates and countries visited, and medications taken while traveling. Bring a record of your vaccinations, including pre-travel vaccinations.
- Make a list of all your medications. Include any vitamins or supplements you take regularly.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For Zika virus infection, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments are available?
- How long will it be before I'm feeling better?
- Are there any long-term effects of this illness?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor, such as:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Are you pregnant or trying to become pregnant? Do you use condoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
- Where have you traveled in the past month?
- Were you bitten by mosquitoes while traveling?
- Have you been in contact recently with anyone who was ill?