Pregnant Women and Zika

CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women to protect themselves from Zika virus infection.

Because Zika during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map). Before travel to other areas with risk of Zika (as indicated by purple areas on the Zika map), pregnant women should talk to a healthcare provider and carefully consider the potential risks of Zika and other infectious diseases.

Pregnant Women Should Not Travel To Areas with Zika Outbreaks (red areas on the Zika map) and Carefully Consider Risks and Possible Consequences of Travel to Other Areas with Risk of Zika (purple areas on the Zika map)

  • The only way to completely prevent Zika infection during pregnancy is to not travel to areas with risk of Zika and to use precautions or avoid sex with someone who has recently traveled to a risk area.
  • Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map).
  • We do not have accurate information on the current level of risk in specific areas. The large outbreak in the Americas is over, but Zika is and will continue to be a potential risk in many countries in the Americas and around the world. In 2018 and 2019, no local spread of Zika virus has been reported in the continental United States.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.
  • If you are considering travel to an area with risk of Zika, talk to your health care provider first. It is important to understand the risks of Zika infection during pregnancy, ways to protect yourself, signs of Zika, and the limitations of Zika testing upon your return.

Factors to Consider If You Travel to or Live in an Area with a Zika Outbreak (red areas on the Zika map) or Other Areas with Risk of Zika (purple areas on the Zika map)

During travel or while living in an area with risk of Zika
  • Accommodations: Stay in places with air conditioning, with window and door screens, or sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • Type and length of exposure: For extended stays, there are steps you can take to control mosquitoes inside and outside, like removing standing water. It’s important for all travelers, including those visiting friends and relatives and those with extended stays, to protect themselves against Zika infection and other mosquito-borne illnesses during the entire visit.
After travel
  • After any travel outside the United States during pregnancy, it is important to tell your doctor or health care provider about your travel because of the potential risk of various infectious diseases.
  • If you or your partner travel to an area with a Zika outbreak or other areas with risk of Zika:
    • Be alert for symptoms of Zika, including headache, rash, joint pain, red eyes.
    • Routine testing is not recommended for pregnant women with possible exposure to Zika, unless symptoms are present. Testing people when there is a lower occurrence of disease could lead to a higher proportion of false positive test results.
    • Take steps to prevent getting Zika through sex by using condoms from start to finish every time you have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) or by not having sex during your entire pregnancy.
Zika Testing for Pregnant Women with Possible Exposure to an Area with risk of Zika
If you…
When to be tested
Traveled to an area with risk of Zika or had sex with a partner who lived in or traveled to one of these areas
  • You should be tested if you have symptoms of Zika or if an ultrasound shows that your fetus has abnormalities that might be related to Zika infection.
  • Routine testing is not recommended for pregnant women exposed to these areas who do not have symptoms. However, your doctor may offer testing based on your individual situation.
Live in or frequently travel (daily or weekly) to an area with risk of Zika
  • If you have symptoms of Zika at any time during your pregnancy, you should be tested for Zika.
  • If you do not have symptoms, you should be offered testing at your first prenatal care visit, followed by two additional rounds of testing at regular prenatal care visits during your pregnancy.
Risk of Zika Infection on Future Pregnancies

Current evidence suggests that Zika infection prior to pregnancy would not pose a risk of birth defects to a future pregnancy. From what we know about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be protected from a future Zika infection. Currently, we do not have a test to tell if someone is protected against Zika virus.

If you’re thinking about having a baby in the near future and you or your partner live in or traveled to an area with a Zika outbreak (red areas on the Zika map) or an area with risk of Zika (purple areas on Zika map), talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider. See Women & Their Partners Trying to Become Pregnant.

Pregnant woman at examination with female doctor

If you think you or your partner may have or had Zika, tell your healthcare provider.

Illustration of a couple hugging

Men and Zika

How men can protect their partners… More >

If you have questions about a possible infection or diagnosis

If families would like to speak to someone about a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy and risk to the baby, please contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday-Friday 8am-5pm (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:

Related Fact Sheets

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Doctor’s Visit Checklist: For Pregnant Women Who Traveled to an Area with Risk of Zika

 


Live in an Area with Risk of Zika Transmission

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US Zika Pregnancy Registry: What Pregnant Women Need to Know