Zika: Selected Law and Policy Resources

Picture of mosquito

Zika virus disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). The illness is generally mild, with many people showing no symptoms. However, Zika can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy, or to her baby, around the time of birth, and infection can lead to serious birth defects. Zika can also be sexually transmitted from an infected person to his or her partner(s). As cases of Zika have been increasingly reported in the United States, Zika preparedness and response has continued to be a public health concern and a public health law issue.

This resource list has been created for healthcare and public health lawyers to stay up to date on Zika-related legal and policy issues. The following resources describe and discuss law and policy topics related to Zika. The list includes both specific sources related to Zika preparedness and response as well as more general resources on the topic.

For more information on Zika—including updates on cases, information on symptoms, testing,  treatment, and other resources―visit CDC’s Zika Virus webpage.

Briefs and Fact Sheets

Presentations and Webcasts

  • An Overview for State and Territorial Leaders[PDF – 1.17MB]
    Matthew Penn, Ctrs. for Disease Control and Prevention Pub. Health Law Program (August 9, 2016)
    Discusses what state and territorial leaders can do to help fight Zika, and gives an overview of state and territorial laws that have already been established for that purpose.
  • The Zika Virus: Current Public Health Considerations and What You Need to Know
    Aimee Ferraro, Walden University, and Montrece Ransom, Ctrs. for Disease Control and Prevention Pub. Health Law Program (April 7, 2016)
    Provides overview of Zika and international and domestic legal and policy responses, including information about mosquito abatement laws and emergency declarations.
  • Using Policy to Increase Public Understanding and Enhance State and Community Readiness[PDF – 1.90MB]
    John Auerbach, Ctrs. For Disease Control and Prevention Office of the Associate Director for Policy, and Robert Eadie, Monroe County Health Department (April 2016)
    Discusses authority for and operation of day-to-day mosquito control, emergency declarations, and other policy issues related to Zika, and provides local perspectives gained from the 2009–2010 outbreak of dengue in Key West.
  • Zika Preparedness and Response: A Public Health and Legal Perspective
    Steve Monroe, Ctrs. For Disease Control and Prevention Office of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety, Gregory Sunshine, Ctrs. for Disease Control and Prevention Pub. Health Law Program, and Robert Eadie, Monroe County Health Department, presentation for the American Public Health Association (March 18, 2016).
    Provides overview of Zika transmission and reported cases, lessons related to executive orders and emergency declarations from the West Nile virus outbreak that can be applied to Zika, discussion of community action plans and lessons learned from the dengue outbreak in Florida, and review of the legal plans and relationships that are important during an infectious disease outbreak.
  • Emergency Legal Preparedness Concerning Zika Virus: Primer[PDF – 2.08MB]
    James Hodge, Network for Public Health Law (September 30, 2016)
    Discusses legal and policy responses to Zika, including responses from the World Health Organization, federal government, and state governments, as well as emerging law and policy issues, such as liability, privacy concerns, reproductive health, and travel restrictions.
  • Legal Approaches to Dealing with Public Health Issues like the Zika Virus Across Jurisdictions
    American Bar Association (August 18, 2016)
    Gives an overview of legal environment that is highlighted by Zika and discusses the domestic legal and policy framework for addressing issues like Zika, as well as domestic and international legal and policy responses to emerging public health issues.
  • Legal Preparedness for Zika Virus: Law as a Tool to Protect Public Health[PDF – 2.87MB]
    Aubrey Joy Corcoran, Arizona Office of the Attorney General, presentation at the Arizona Zika Action Plan Summit (May 24, 2016)
    Discusses state police power, mosquito abatement-related laws, emergency declarations, and other uses of law as a public health tool in the context of Zika.
  • Zika Virus Workshop: Public Health and Legal Control Measures
    University of Houston Law Center (April 8, 2016)
    Discusses public health and legal control measures for public health professionals, county and city government officials, and the public.


Acknowledgments and Disclaimers

This document was developed by Hillary Li, JD candidate at the University of North Carolina School of Law, extern with the Public Health Law Program (PHLP) within the National Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The author thanks Montrece Ransom, JD, MPH, Greg Sunshine, JD, and Dawn Pepin, JD, MPH for their research and editorial assistance.

For further technical assistance with this inventory, please contact phlawprogram@cdc.gov. PHLP provides technical assistance and public health law resources to advance the use of law as a public health tool. PHLP cannot provide legal advice on any issue and cannot represent any individual or entity in any matter. PHLP recommends seeking the advice of an attorney or other qualified professional with questions regarding the application of law to a specific circumstance. The findings and conclusions in this summary are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.

Published February 16, 2017. 

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