Zika virus: Advice for travellers

Updated: December 24, 2019

Note:

Original publication date: January 28, 2014

Current Situation

Zika virus continues to be a concern in many parts of the world, including:

To find out if your destination is a country or area with risk of Zika virus, consult the Travel Advice and Advisories page, and select your destination. Information on diseases spread by insects, such as Zika virus, is found under the 'Health' tab.

 

Zika virus

Zika virus typically causes mild illness lasting only a few days. Many people who are infected have no symptoms and do not know that they have been infected. Only 1 in 4 people infected with Zika virus develop symptoms.

Symptoms of Zika virus infection often include:

A Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can pose significant risks to the unborn baby, even if the woman does not develop any symptoms. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects including microcephaly (an abnormally small head), brain abnormalities, vision and hearing loss, and more. When some of these birth defects are present together, the condition is called Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS).

There have also been increased reports of a serious nervous system disorder in adults, called Guillain-Barré syndrome, in countries and areas with risk of Zika virus.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also spread by:

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medication to treat infection with Zika virus. Symptoms, when present, will typically resolve on their own within a few days. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms.

Recommendations

For pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy

Zika virus infection during pregnancy increases the risk for serious birth defects since women can pass the virus to their unborn babies.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional at least 6 weeks before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to a country or area with risk of Zika virus. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to these areas.

Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Infected men with or without symptoms, can carry Zika virus in their semen for a prolonged period of time. Partners should be aware of the risk so they can make informed travel decisions and take appropriate precautions.

Pregnant women should always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to a country or area with risk of Zika virus for the duration of their pregnancy.

For all travellers to countries or areas with risk of Zika virus

Before your trip

During your trip

After your trip

Women

Men

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

Information for Health Professionals


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