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Zika Virus Transmission in Infants and Children

Congenital Zika Virus Infection

How is Zika virus transmitted congenitally and perinatally?

Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and feed both indoors and outdoors. They can also bite at night. Zika virus can be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy (congenital transmission) or around the time of birth (perinatal transmission). We do not know how often perinatal Zika transmission occurs. Additionally, spread of the virus through sexual contact and blood transfusion has been reported. Organ or tissue transplantation, and certain fertility treatments pose theoretical risks for Zika virus transmission.

What is the difference between congenital and perinatal transmission of Zika virus?

Congenital or intrauterine transmission of Zika virus occurs when a woman is infected with Zika virus during her pregnancy, but before delivery, and the virus passes to the fetus. Perinatal transmission of Zika virus occurs when a woman is infected with the Zika virus within approximately 2 weeks of delivery, and the virus passes to the infant at or around the time of delivery. When an infant acquires Zika virus infection prenatally, the infant may develop symptoms such as maculopapular rash, conjunctivitis, arthralgia, and fever.

If a mother had Zika virus infection during pregnancy or currently has Zika virus infection, should she breastfeed her infant?

Zika virus has been identified in breast milk, but infant Zika virus infection associated with breastfeeding has not been reported. Current evidence suggests that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the theoretical risk of Zika virus infection transmission through breast milk. CDC encourages mothers with Zika virus infection and mothers living in areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission to breastfeed their infants.

Postnatal Zika Virus Infection

How is Zika virus transmitted postnatally?

Infants and children can acquire Zika virus postnatally. Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and feed both indoors and outdoors. They can also bite at night. To protect infants and children from mosquito bites, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover the crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting, and follow insect repellent recommendations for children.

Zika virus can also be transmitted through sex without a condom. Sexually active adolescents should use condoms to prevent sexual transmission along with the most effective contraceptive methods of their choice to help avoid unintended pregnancy and congenital Zika virus infection.

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