Vector Borne Diseases


Zika virus is spread primarily by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  The virus can also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy. Most people infected with Zika virus are asymptomatic and have mild illness; however, infants who were exposed to the virus in utero are at risk for severe complications.


Congenital Zika virus infection has been linked with birth defects, including brain abnormalities and microcephaly in some newborns. Congenital Zika Syndrome is a unique pattern of birth defects found among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus during pregnancy.

Congenital Zika Syndrome is described by the following five features:

  • Severe microcephaly in which the skull has partially collapsed
  • Decreased brain tissue with a specific pattern of brain damage, including subcortical calcifications
  • Damage to the back of the eye, including macular scarring and focal pigmentary retinal mottling
  • Congenital contractures, such as clubfoot or arthrogryposis
  • Hypertonia restricting body movement soon after birth

Zika Exposed Newborns Who Appear Healthy at Birth

Other newborns whose mothers were exposed to Zika virus during pregnancy and appear normal at birth may develop microcephaly or other complications postnatally. Since the full range of health effects of Zika virus on the developing fetus and infant are not yet fully understood, pediatric healthcare providers are urged to remain vigilant for potential problems.


a Due to the risk of severe birth defects, pediatric providers should inquire about maternal travel and risk of congenital Zika exposure for every newborn. Updated travel and advisory information can be found on the CDC’s Zika Travel Information page.

a  Refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated Interim Guidance for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection, October 2017.

a  Download the new NJAAP Essential Guidance for Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection booklet (June 2018). This booklet includes NJDOH testing information, CDC recommendations for evaluation and management, and family support resources in one concise, convenient document.