Advertisement

Can Zika virus be fatal?

Doctors have attributed some deaths to complications of Zika virus. First, however, know that infections are almost always mild, and people recover fully within about a week. Four out of five people have no symptoms at all. But experts have found a possible link between Zika and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a condition in which the immune system begins to attack the nerves. Most people recover from GBS, too, but in rare cases it can lead to paralysis and death. In Colombia, doctors announced in February 2015 that they had attributed several deaths to GBS brought on by Zika virus. The connection between Zika and GBS still isn't fully understood, though. Zika has also been linked in rare cases to other neurological problems, such as meningoencephalitis. 

Zika could be fatal in another way. The virus has been strongly linked with a birth defect called microcephaly, which causes infants to be born with small heads and underdeveloped brains. These babies may be stillborn or die after birth. 

Continue Learning about Zika Virus

What Men Should Know About Zika
What Men Should Know About Zika
While women of childbearing age rightfully worry about getting Zika—the mosquito-borne virus linked to microcephaly and other severe birth defects—man...
Read More
How can I cancel my travel plans if I'm concerned about the Zika virus?
Carrie L. Sloan, MDCarrie L. Sloan, MD
If you are worried about the Zika virus and want to cancel your travel plans, ask your airline or ho...
More Answers
How is Zika diagnosed?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Zika virus infection is diagnosed by a history of travel and flu like symptoms including fever, rash...
More Answers
How the Zika Virus Is Diagnosed
How the Zika Virus Is Diagnosed

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.