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Zika

Zika virus infection is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, similar to dengue. 

06 Aug 2018


Understanding the Zika Virus

Zika virus infection is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, similar to dengue. Only about one in five infections are symptomatic. Zika is generally a mild and self-limiting illness. Although rare, serious neurological complications and foetal abnormalities have been associated with Zika virus infection. There is no vaccine or specific anti-viral drugs.

How  Zika is transmitted

  • The Zika virus is primarily transmitted to humans via the bite of an infective Aedesmosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the common species found locally).

  • The virus can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her foetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects, including microcephaly (baby’s head is much smaller than expected).

  • Sexual transmission has also been reported.

Symptoms of Zika virus infection

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms. One in five cases may present with the following symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Rash

  • Joint pain

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache

  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 12 days of being bitten by an infected Aedesmosquito, and can last between 4 to 7 days.

Zika and Pregnancy

While there is currently no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get the Zika virus infection, the consequences can be more serious if a pregnant woman is infected, as the Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly in a small number of unborn foetuses.

Pregnant women with symptoms of possible Zika virus infection should seek medical attention immediately, and consult their Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) doctor.

Men who are confirmed positive for Zika should practise safer sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six months after recovery.

During Pregnancy

If you, or your sexual partner, work, study or live in an affected area, you should adopt safe sexual practices (e.g. consistent and correct use of condoms during sex) or consider abstinence throughout your pregnancy.

If your sexual partner has tested positive for Zika, you should consult your doctor and inform him/her of your possible exposure to Zika so that he/she can arrange for you to be tested. Do keep in mind that WHO’s May 2016 guidelines do not recommend routine Zika testing for asymptomatic pregnant women. If you are concerned, you should discuss further with your doctor.

For Couples Planning Pregnancy

If both the man and woman are well

They should take strict precautions against mosquito bites, and if they have further questions, consult their doctor.

If the woman is symptomatic

(with fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes or joint pain)

She should seek medical attention promptly, and if confirmed positive for Zika, she should practise safer sexual practices or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least 8 weeks after recovery, before trying to conceive.

If the man is symptomatic

(with fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes or joint pain)

He should seek medical attention promptly, and if confirmed positive for Zika, he should practise safer sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six months after recovery.

Zika and Everyone

Preventing the breeding of the Aedes mosquito remains the most effective way to control the spread of the Zika virus infection in Singapore. You can proactively take measures to protect yourself, your family and your co-workers by removing stagnant water in and around your home and workplace to prevent mosquito breeding.

You can also prevent mosquito bites by applying insect repellent, wearing long, covered clothing and sleeping under mosquito nets or in rooms with wire-mesh screens or air-conditioned rooms to keep out mosquitoes.

When to get tested for the Zika virus

For those who are not pregnant, confirming a Zika infection generally does not have an impact on the clinical management, which is currently focused on relieving symptoms. It is, however, useful in directing vector control efforts.

MOH will provide a subsidy for the test by the public sector laboratories as follows: 

  • For subsidised patients at the public healthcare institutions, they will pay a subsidised rate of $60 if they have Zika symptoms regardless of where they live, work or study. Patients who need the test but cannot afford it can approach the medical social worker for assistance, such as from Medifund.

  • For private patients in the public healthcare institutions, and patients at private clinics and private hospitals, they will pay the full cost of $150 for the Zika test.

Doctors will continue to make the clinical judgement on individuals as to whether testing of Zika is necessary.

Pregnant women will remain a special group to whom we will make Zika tests more affordable and accessible. Doctors will continue to make the clinical judgement as to whether testing of Zika is necessary, and for those who have Zika symptoms or whose male partner is Zika-positive, the public sector laboratories will continue to extend free Zika tests to patients at the public healthcare institutions, as well as those at private hospitals and clinics.

What happens if the test is positive

If you are not pregnant, your symptoms will be managed as they present themselves. There is no specific anti-viral medication to treat Zika virus infection.

If you are a man planning a pregnancy or your partner is already pregnant: You should practise safer sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six months after recovery.

If you are a woman planning a pregnancy: You should practise safer sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least 8 weeks after recovery.

If you are pregnant: You should consult an O&G doctor so that your condition can be further managed.


For more information

  • MOH Hotline: 1800 225 4122