Zika virus is transmitted by daytime-active mosquitoes and has been isolated from a number of species in the genus Aedes, such as A. aegypti, and arboreal mosquitoes such as A. africanus, A. apicoargenteus, A. furcifer, A. hensilli, A. luteocephalus and A. vitattus. Studies show that the extrinsic incubation period in mosquitoes is about 10 days. Zika virus can migrate between humans through sexual contact and it can also cross the placenta, affecting an unborn fetus. A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.
The vertebrate hosts of the virus are primarily monkeys and humans. Before the current pandemic, which began in 2007, Zika virus "rarely caused recognized 'spillover' infections in humans, even in highly enzootic areas".