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What is Zika?

Zika is a virus. Zika is mostly spread through mosquito bites. It can also be spread from person to person during anal, oral, or vaginal sex, or while sharing sex toys. Most people who get Zika have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Symptoms may include fever, rash, joint/muscle pain, red eyes, or headache. Symptoms may last several days to a week.

For the most up to date information on Zika, where it is, and how to prevent it, go to the CDC.

How can I avoid getting Zika?

Avoid mosquito bites: Avoid travel to areas where mosquitoes are spreading Zika. Find the most up to date travel advisory at the CDC. If you live in or can’t avoid travel to an area where mosquitoes are spreading Zika, try your best to avoid mosquito bites by:

  • Keeping your doors and windows closed and using screens

  • Making sure any containers around your home don’t have water in them (i.e. trash cans)

  • Spending less time outside

  • Protecting yourself when you do go outside

    • Wear long sleeves and long pants

    • Use bug spray that has been EPA approved

Have safer sex: You can get Zika by having sex with someone who has it, even if they don’t have symptoms. Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and sharing sex toys.

  • If you DON’T want to be pregnant right now, use birth control. Use condoms or dental dams every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or share sex toys, to avoid getting Zika and other STDs.

  • If you DO want to get pregnant and you live in, or travel to, an area where mosquitoes are spreading Zika, talk with a doctor or nurse about when you should start trying.

  • If you DO want to get pregnant and your sex partner HAS Zika or symptoms of Zika:

    • Talk with a doctor or nurse about when you should start trying to get pregnant.

    • If you are planning to become pregnant, consider waiting.

    • If your partner has a penis, use condoms or dental dams every time you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex, or share sex toys, for at least 6 months after symptoms started.

    • If your partner has a vagina, use dental dams or condoms every time you have sex or share sex toys for at least 8 weeks after symptoms started.

  • If your sex partner is pregnant and you live in, or travel to, an area where where mosquitoes are spreading Zika, use condoms or dental dams every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex or share sex toys, for the rest of the pregnancy. Or you can avoid sex for the rest of the pregnancy.

What does Zika mean for Pregnancy?

If you have Zika while you’re pregnant, it can cause:

  • Miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Microcephaly or postnatal microcephaly, which is when a baby is born with, or within 6-12 months has, a very small head and brain.
  • Developmental problems with vision, hearing, or growth, as well as brain development issues.

You may or may not have any of these problems. There’s no way to know in advance whether Zika will affect your pregnancy or not. If you test positive for Zika during pregnancy, your doctor or nurse will check the pregnancy to look for any problems. Microcephaly is most easily found during ultrasounds in the late second/ early third trimester of pregnancy, but could be found as early as 18-20 weeks.

There is no evidence that having Zika will impact future pregnancies.

There is also no evidence that Zika can be passed in breast milk. It is safe and healthy to breastfeed your baby if you have or had Zika.

Should I get tested for Zika?

If you may have been in an area with Zika and have symptoms, get tested. The staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center can help you decide if you should be tested.

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