Zika Virus in the Pacific Islands
What is the current situation?
In November 2015, Samoa reported local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika). Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Since then, the following destinations in the Pacific Islands have reported ongoing transmission of Zika:
Zika Virus in Pregnancy
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):
- Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
- If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika transmission is ongoing, either abstain from sex or use condoms consistently and correctly for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women who are trying to become pregnant:
- Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
- You and your male partner should strictly followsteps to prevent mosquito bites.
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. As more information becomes available, this travel notice will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to the Pacific Islands 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.
- Prevent additional mosquito bites for 3 weeks to avoid spreading the disease.
- 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.
If you are pregnant:
All pregnant travelers returning from areas with ongoing Zika transmission can 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. Asymptomatic pregnant women who have traveled to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission can also be offered testing.
- 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.