Columbia University Medical Center

Zika Virus Updates From Columbia Experts

Last Updated: August 19, 2016

Zika is a virus spread to humans by Aedes mosquitoes. It usually causes mild illness, with most people sick with the virus getting a slight fever and skin rash. Only one in five people who get the virus experience symptoms, and the symptoms usually last from three to 14 days. The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites. The World Health Organization has declared the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean a “Public Health Emergency” in reaction to a link between the virus and birth defects and neurological disorders.

This page provides a running update with the latest information and advice on Zika virus from Columbia experts.

Zika virus recommendations from the CDC

  • On August 18, health officials reported several more cases of Zika in the Miami Beach area which are suspected to be transmitted by local mosquitos.
  • On July 29, 2016 health officials in Florida reported the first cases of active Zika transmission by mosquitos in the US.
  • For a list of countries with active transmission, visit the CDC website.
  • If you are pregnant, the CDC recommends avoiding travel to areas where Zika is spreading.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
  • If you are not pregnant, travel to Zika affected areas is ok.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
  • Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a man is possible, so if you are traveling, you should use condoms or not have sex.
  • If you have just returned from a Zika area, the CDC recommends waiting at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant (and 6 months if tested positive for Zika).

Further resources

Zika virus updates from Columbia experts


Columbia Physicians Share Advice for Patients Worried About Zika

July 29, 2016

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, Kiran Thakur, MD, and Alok Patel, MD cover questions such as what to do when bitten by a mosquito, advice on traveling to Zika-affected areas, and recommended preventative strategies.

Read more

Q&A with Dr. Vincent Racaniello

May 25, 2016

Columbia virologist Vincent Racaniello, PhD, explains the latest scientific findings on Zika virus.

Read more

Humans vs. the Mosquito: An Age-Old Battle

May 10, 2016

As Zika and yellow fever pose increasing threats, Columbia public health experts explore efforts to fight the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Read more

Zika virus infection of the nervous system

March 10, 2016

Evidence is mounting that Zika virus is neurotropic (able to infect cells of the nervous system) and neurovirulent (causes disease of the nervous system) in humans.

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Zika: A Chance to Expand Reproductive Rights?

March 01, 2016

Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH, explains why fighting Zika effectively means guaranteeing the right to full and adequate reproductive health care for all women.

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Person to person Zika virus transmission

February 25, 2016

Vincent Racaniello, PhD, assesses studies that claim Zika can be transferred by sexual contact.

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Zika virus and microcephaly

February 10, 2016

Columbia virologist, Vincent Racaniello, PhD, explains three recently published reports that together make a compelling case that Zika virus is causing microcephaly in Brazil.

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Q&A on Zika virus with Columbia experts

February 4, 2016

Have questions about the Zika virus? Concerned about travelling to an affected area? Columbia University Medical Center experts offer insight into the arrival of Zika virus in South America and the Caribbean—and what it could mean for you.

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What we know (and don’t know) about Zika

February 2, 2016

As the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health faculty explain who is at risk and what we can do to protect ourselves.

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The science and virology of Zika

January 28, 2016

The rapid spread of Zika virus through the Americas, together with the association of infection with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, have propelled this previously ignored virus into the limelight. Virologist and Professor Vince Racaniello, PhD, writes about this virus and where it came from.

Read more

Columbia experts available for interviews

Vincent Racaniello, PhD, the Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, College of Physicians & Surgeons
Ian Lipkin, MD, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology (Mailman School of Public Health) and Professor of Neurology and Pathology and Cell Biology (College of Physicians & Surgeons); and Director, Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health
Stephen Morse, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health
Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health
Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Physicians & Surgeons

Please contact CUMC’s Office of Communications at cumcnews@columbia.edu.

Zika in the news

The Race for a Zika Vaccine
August 19 | New Yorker

Florida Zika Outbreak: Why More Cases Don’t Mean the Outbreak is Growing
August 17 | ABC

Miami Receives First Travel Advisory for Zika Issued in the U.S.
August 2 | WNYC

Playing Catch-Up With Zika
August 1 | U.S. News

Why Aren’t Americans Flipping Out About Zika? Because They Already Did Over Ebola
July 29 | Pacific Standard

Why we still don’t know all of the ways you can contract Zika
July 26 | Quartz

Brazil asks whether Zika acts alone to cause birth defects
July 25 | Nature

Lifelong care, heartaches ahead for babies born with Zika in the U.S.
July 24 | Washington Post

As Experts Confront the Hazards of Zika, Fear and Uncertainty Hover
July 1 | New York Times

Road To Rio: Zika Won’t Prevent Olympic Dreams, But The Virus Could Eventually Spur An Economic Nightmare
May 23 | International Business Times

How many Zika-infected infants will develop microcephaly and other FAQs
May 18 | PBS Newshour

In the War on Zika, a Persistent Fog
May 13 | Undark

CDC screens nearly 5,000 travelers for Zika, less than 200 test positive
April 15 | CNN

Study: Zika Landed in Brazil 2 Years Before It Was Detected
March 24 | Associated Press

Lessons From Rubella Suggest Zika’s Impact Could Linger
March 22 | National Public Radio

Women Who Brought Zika Fears Home With Them
March 14 | New York Times

Could climate change be the culprit in spread of Zika virus?
March 9 | Chicago Tribune

Could climate change be the culprit in spread of Zika virus?
March 3 | Pacific Standard

Zika virus: Why emergency funding is necessary, and why it shouldn’t be?
February 23 | The Hill

Scientists Still Can’t Say Zika Causes Microcephaly
February 16 | Motherboard

Zika virus may hide in organs protected from the immune system
February 16 | Reuters

What Travelers Need to Know About Zika and Dengue
February 11 | New York Times

How a Medical Mystery in Brazil Led Doctors to Zika
February 6 | New York Times

There’s no easy way to tell if Zika is transmitted sexually
February 5 | Quartz

Can We Predict the Next Pandemic?
February 4 | WNYC

US Zika Case Sparks Questions about Sex and Mosquito Germs
February 3 | Associated Press

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus
February 1 | Huffington Post

Zika Virus: IOC Says Rio Will Be ‘Safe Environment’ For 2016 Olympics
January 29 | ABC News

The Zika Virus Isn’t Just an Epidemic. It’s Here to Stay.
January 29 | Foreign Policy

Should You Get Tested For Zika Virus? A Flowchart
January 27 | Huffington Post

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus and Your Vacation Plans
January 19 | DNAinfo

Could Spread of Zika Virus Be Linked to Climate Change or El Nino?
January 18 | NBC News