Zika and Explaining What You Know and Don’t Know
The 2015 Zika virus disease outbreak affects people in ways scientists haven’t seen before. They know the main ways Zika spreads, and they have confirmed that Zika causes microcephaly. However, they don’t know how many people will get Zika or much about the sexual transmission of Zika, among other topics.
The CDC Clear Communication Index item #11 recommends that you state clearly what you know and don’t know about a health topic. Acknowledging uncertainty and questions that haven’t been answered yet increases the public’s trust that we are providing facts they can use to make informed decisions.
Visit the Clear Communication Index site and learn clear communication techniques. Visit www.cdc.gov for the latest Zika information.
Zika Example #1
These maps DO NOT show
- Exact locations or numbers of mosquitoes living in an area
- Risk or likelihood that these mosquitoes will spread viruses
These maps show
- CDC’s best estimate of the potential range of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in the United States
- Areas where mosquitoes are or have been previously found
Zika Example #2
What we know
Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus.
- The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito.
- Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners.
A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus.
- Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.
What we do not know
If a pregnant woman is exposed
- We don’t know how likely she is to get Zika.
If a pregnant woman is infected, we don’t know
- how the virus will affect her or her pregnancy.
- how likely it is that Zika will pass to her fetus.
- if the fetus is infected, if the fetus will develop birth defects.
- when in pregnancy the infection might cause harm to the fetus.
- whether her baby will have birth defects.
- if sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk of birth defects than mosquito-borne transmission.