Zika Virus: What Do Emergency Physicians Need to Know?

Drew Long, Brit Long, Alex Koyfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: Zika virus currently dominates headlines, creating public fear due to its complications. With the ease of worldwide travel, this disease has spread rapidly to the U.S. Objectives: To provide physicians with an updated clinical review of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, management, and mimics of zika virus. Discussion: This flavivirus is spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito during daylight. The ease of worldwide travel has allowed the virus to spread to Mexico and the U.S. Main transmission route is via blood contact or sexual activity involving mucous membranes. Incubation ranges from 2 to 12 days, but only 20% of patients experience symptoms. Fever is low grade with conjunctivitis, arthralgias, myalgias, and a maculopapular rash. Chikungunya and Dengue Fever differ in that patients experience higher fever and no conjunctivitits. The dreaded complication of Zika virus is microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is also linked to the virus. Historical factors including travel history are paramount, and diagnosis includes PCR or serology. No current treatment regimen exists beyond symptom control. The emergency physician must seek to rule out other similar diseases such as malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever. Conclusion: Zika virus has created public fear due to complications, and this flavivirus spread by the Aedes mosquito presents similarly to Chikungunya and Dengue Fever. The dreaded complication of Zika virus is microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers. This review provides key information concerning the disease and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 13 2016


  • Aedes
  • Blood
  • Flavivirus
  • Microcephaly
  • Mosquito
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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