Learn more about the Zika virus, how it spreads, what symptoms to look for, and how to protect your family.
Zika virus spreads primarily by a type of mosquito (Aedes species) in many parts of the world. It can also be sexually transmitted from a man to his sex partners. Zika has been linked to a serious birth defect called microcephalyand may be linked to other brain and eye abnormalities in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant.
CDC is studying Zika virus transmission and its links to other health conditions. CDC is also taking steps to prevent the virus from spreading to more countries and to the United States. Everyone can take steps to protect themselves and pregnant women in the United States.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Zika
Many people infected with Zika do not have symptoms and do not know that they had Zika. Symptoms are usually mild and last a few days to a week. Symptoms of Zika include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
If you have been to an area with an outbreak of Zika and develop these symptoms within 2 weeks of travel, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may test you for other viruses like dengue or chikungunya.
Zika May Be Linked to Birth Defects
CDC issued travel notices for people traveling to regions and countries with Zika. CDC received reports ofmicrocephaly (a birth defect in which the fetus' brain doesn't completely develop) and other birth defects in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika while pregnant. There's no vaccine to prevent Zika. Pregnant women can avoid getting infected by preventing mosquito bites and by using condoms the right way every time or not having sex with male partners who live in or have been to areas with Zika.
Zika and Sexual Transmission
Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted by a man to his sex partners. In known cases of likely sexual transmission, the men had Zika symptoms. But the virus can be spread before, during, and after men have symptoms. Men who travel to or live in areas with Zika can prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using a condom the right way (warning: this link contains sexually graphic images) every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex, or by not having sex. For men with pregnant partners, these steps should be taken throughout the woman's pregnancy to protect the fetus. Pregnant women with male sex partners who think they may have or had Zika should tell their healthcare providers about his travel history and whether they had sex without a condom.
Protect Your Family from Zika
If you're traveling to an area with Zika, the best way to prevent getting infected with and spreading Zika is to prevent mosquito bites and taking steps to prevent sexual transmission of Zika during and after travel.
Take these steps to prevent mosquito bites
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Make sure to check for and fix any holes in screens.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.
- When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. Put on clothing first, and then apply repellent to any exposed skin.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing can protect after multiple washings. See the product's information to learn how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
If you have a baby or child:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, or cut or irritated skin.
- Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to your child's face.
Prevent mosquito bites even after you return from traveling to areas with Zika. If you get infected, even if you don't get sick, Zika virus can be found in your blood and passed to mosquitoes through mosquito bites. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people.