Zika Update

UA Zika Update 8/29

The Zika virus is mosquito-borne and transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (which - do not thrive in Alaska). The secondary transmission form of the Zika virus is through the exchange of body fluids (unprotected sex).

The biggest risk of the Zika virus is to pregnant women in the first trimester. The Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and is associated with other pregnancy problems.

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, which can occur from 3 to 12 days after exposure. The illness is usually mild, with only one out of five infected people developing symptoms. Symptoms usually last less than one week.

There is no vaccine at this time, so…in Alaska…the best way to prevent infection is to practice safe sex.


Zika stays in the blood for 11 days on average, and potentially much longer in other bodily fluids. In men, the virus can persist in semen for more than 180 days. Zika has also been found in vaginal fluid 11 days after a woman showed symptoms of infection.

Zika was discovered in the 1940s, but most people had never heard of it until last year. That's because for decades, Zika outbreaks were sporadic and tiny, and the disease seemed to do little harm.


“Alaskans travel a great deal and UA attracts an international crowd. We invite to our campuses students and researchers from around the world. That makes us vulnerable to these types of threats,” said Greg Busch UA Statewide director of emergency management.

Busch believes that Alaska needs to take a proactive educational role in addressing these kinds of threats before they arrive on one of our many doorsteps.

“Alaska’s climate thankfully isn’t hospitable to the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito so our issue is one of continuous education about personal safety and preventing the spread of Zika from person to person. Now that it is scientifically confirmed that Zika is spread through sexual transmission – it is critical that the UA community is aware that prevention is the key. People need to protect themselves and their partners during sex by using condoms. Really no other way to say it,” said Busch.

Information on this disease is quickly evolving. Busch recommends referring to the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.

The first link outlines cases reported in the United States; the only two States with no travel related Zika cases are Alaska and Wyoming.  At this time Zika has been locally acquired in Florida, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  http://www.cdc.gov/zika/intheus/maps-zika-us.html

The second CDC link itemizes Zika travel information.  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information

This final CDC link includes all Travel Health Notices from the CDC, including Zika travel information. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

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