Question & Answers:
Zika Virus Infection (Zika) & Pregnancy


What is Zika?
Zika is a virus. If you have Zika while you are pregnant, it can cause serious problems for your baby. There have been many reports of babies being born with brain and eye problems, and smaller than normal heads. These babies may have developmental problems. Zika may also cause miscarriage.


What are the symptoms of Zika?
Most people who get Zika have no symptoms or ones that are very mild. It can cause fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, headache, and muscle pain. It usually takes a few days to a week to get symptoms after you are infected. Symptoms last several days to a week. If you think you might have it, you should see a doctor or nurse.


How do people get Zika?
It is mostly spread to people through mosquito bites. But it can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her baby and through semen during sex.

The recent outbreak of Zika is happening in Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have been cases of Zika in the continental U.S. Most of the people traveled to the affected countries and returned home with the virus. A few of the cases were spread through sex.


What can I do to keep from getting Zika?
If you are not pregnant and not trying to get pregnant and you travel to a country with Zika, do your best to prevent mosquito bites and make sure you use birth control. To prevent mosquito bites:

  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use bug spray that contains DEET and wear clothes treated with permethrin. For more information go to the CDC website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants.

If your sex partner lives or traveled to a country with Zika, use condoms every time you have sex (anal, oral, or vaginal) or abstain from sex:

  • For at least 6 months after symptoms began, if your partner had Zika or symptoms of Zika
  • For at least 8 weeks after returning, if your partner traveled to an area with Zika and never had symptoms
  • For as long as Zika is in the area, if your partner lives in an area with Zika and never had symptoms

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, experts say you should not travel to countries where there is Zika virus. If you do visit these countries, it's especially important to try to avoid mosquito bites. If you visited a country with Zika, you should wait at least 8 weeks after returning before trying to get pregnant.

If you travel to these countries and your partner is pregnant, it’s important to use condoms every time you have sex (anal, oral, or vaginal) for the rest of your pregnancy.

At this time there is no treatment or vaccine for Zika.


What else do I need to know?
If you are pregnant and you traveled to a country with Zika or think your partner has Zika, make sure you tell your doctor or nurse. They may test you for Zika and check to see if the baby has it too.


Where can I get more information about Zika?
The best way to learn about Zika is from the CDC website. They update their information on a regular basis. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html


Page last updated: May 3, 2016