Zika Virus in South America
What is the current situation?
In May 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) was reported in South America. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Since then, the following South American countries have reported ongoing transmission of Zika:
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to South America protect themselves from mosquito bites. Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so travelers are also encouraged to use condoms.
What can travelers do to prevent Zika?
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
- Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible. If you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a male partner while traveling, you should use condoms the right way every time. Condoms can also help prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Men who have traveled to an area with ongoing Zika transmission should consider using condoms consistently and correctly to protect their sexual partners.
- Men who have a pregnant partner should abstain from sexual activity (vaginal, anal, or oral) or consistently and correctly use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy.
If you feel sick and think you may have Zika:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Tell him or her about your travel.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- Prevent additional mosquito bites to avoid spreading the disease.
If you are pregnant:
All pregnant travelers returning from areas with ongoing Zika transmission should be tested for Zika virus infection. This includes both pregnant women with symptoms of Zika and pregnant women with no symptoms.
- If you do not have symptoms of illness, visit your doctor between 2 and 12 weeks after you return from travel for testing.
- If you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes, talk to your doctor or nurse immediately and tell him or her about your travel.
Health care providers should be alert to pregnant patients returning from countries or territories with active Zika virus transmission.
- Clinicians should offer Zika testing to pregnant women with symptoms of Zika during or within 2 weeks of travel and asymptomatic pregnant women who have traveled to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission.
- For pregnant women with symptoms of Zika, testing is recommended at the time of clinical illness.
- For asymptomatic pregnant women, testing is recommended between 2 and 12 weeks after return from travel.
See CDC's Updated Guidelines for Health Care Providers Caring for Pregnant Women and Women of Reproductive Age during Ongoing Zika Virus Transmission for additional recommendations related to Zika testing and follow-up care.
Guidelines for infants whose mothers have possible Zika virus infection are also available.