Zika virus: Advice for travellers

Updated: January 17, 2019

Note:

Original publication date: January 28, 2014

Current Situation

Zika virus is a concern in the following regions:

To find out if a specific destination is an at risk area, consult the list of countries with recent or ongoing risk of Zika virus infection.

The United States reported cases of Zika virus infection transmitted locally by mosquitoes in the states of Florida and Texas in 2016 and 2017. No cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection were reported in any of the 50 states in 2018. At this time, transmission of Zika virus is considered a low risk in all 50 states.

About 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. However, a zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can pose significant risks to the unborn baby, even if the woman does not develop symptoms of infection. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects including abnormally small heads (microcephaly), brain abnormalities, vision and hearing loss, and more.

There have also been increased reports of a serious nervous system disorder in adults, called Guillain-Barré syndrome, in areas where the Zika virus is circulating.

Symptoms of Zika virus can include fever, headache, conjunctivitis (pink eye), skin rash and joint and muscle pain.

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

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against or treats Zika virus infection. 

Zika virus and pregnancy

Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to Zika-affected countries or areas. Zika virus infection during pregnancy increases the risk for serious birth defects since women can pass the virus to their unborn babies.

If you cannot avoid or postpone travel, talk to a health care professional about the risk of Zika virus infection in pregnancy and follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.

The Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Infected men can carry the Zika virus in their semen (even if they never had symptoms) for a prolonged period of time. Partners should be aware of the risk so they can make informed travel decisions and take appropriate precautions.

Recommendations

Before your trip:

During your trip:

After your trip:

For female travellers:

For women planning a pregnancy, it is strongly recommended that you wait at least 2 months after your return or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) before trying to conceive to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body. 

For male travellers

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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