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You may have heard a lot on the news recently about Zika virus.  It causes an illness spread by mosquitoes carrying the virus.

As of now, Zika virus has been found in mosquitoes in Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands. It has not been found in the mainland United States. That’s because the kinds of mosquito that carry Zika virus are much less common here.

Four out of every five people who are infected with Zika virus do not even get sick. People who do get sick from Zika virus mostly feel only mild symptoms, which last from several days to a week.

However, Zika virus infection may be a special concern for women who are pregnant, or who are trying to become pregnant. That’s because pregnant women who become infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to the baby. And Zika infection during pregnancy seems to be linked to birth defects like microcephaly (incomplete brain development).

Pregnant or trying to become pregnant?

  • Postpone travel to areas where Zika virus is spreading.
  • If you must travel to these areas, talk to your doctor first.
  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip (see below).
  • Sexual transmission of Zika virus from an infected male partner is possible. If your male partner traveled to, or lives in, an area with Zika virus, use latex condoms consistently and correctly for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop symptoms of Zika virus infection.

Planning to become pregnant?

  • Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk for getting Zika.
  • Check the CDC travel website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/Travel
  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

Your best protection: Prevent mosquito bites

  • When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent often.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin (products for spraying clothes can be obtained at camping, sports and sportswear stores) or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if you’re sleeping outdoors, or if the room where you are sleeping does not have screens on the windows or doors.

Written By:


Deputy State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian

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