Patient Counseling for Pregnant Women on Zika and Pregnancy

Healthcare providers should counsel pregnant women about the risks for Zika and how to protect themselves. Read more below for CDC’s guidance.

Travel Recommendations

CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with a Zika outbreak (as indicated by red ares on the Zika map). If a pregnant woman is considering travel to other areas with risk of Zika (as indicated in purple on the Zika map), she should talk to her healthcare provider and carefully consider risks and possible consequences of travel. If she travels to an area with a Zika outbreak or other area with risk of Zika, she should be counseled to strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika during the trip. All travelers should continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for at least 3 weeks after they return home to prevent spreading Zika to uninfected local mosquitoes. See CDC’s Travelers’ Health Zika webpage for more information on international travel precautions.

Preventing Sexual Transmission

Pregnant women whose sexual partners have traveled to or lived in an area with a Zika outbreak (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map) or other areas with risk of Zika (as indicated by purple areas on the Zika map) should use condoms every time they have sex (vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and sharing of sex toys) or not have sex during the entire pregnancy. For more information, see Zika and Sexual Transmission.

Pretest Counseling

If Zika testing for a pregnant woman is indicated, healthcare providers should provide pretest counseling. Healthcare providers should

  • Provide the patient with information on the complexity of Zika testing, including the following points:
    • More than one Zika test may be required before a final result is determined.
    • Understanding test results can be challenging.
    • Previous exposure to Zika virus or another related virus (e.g., dengue virus) could affect test results during pregnancy.
  • Discuss each type of Zika test with the patient.
  • Discuss with patients what test results could mean for their pregnancy.

Educational materials and supporting clinician guides are available below.

Note on the US-Mexico Border

The United States-Mexico border region is unique in that many people move fluidly and regularly (for example, daily, weekly) between the two countries to live, work, attend school, socialize, and seek medical care. Those who live in the border area may not regard movement between border cities or states as “travel.” This context should be considered when asking women in this area about travel history and potential exposure to Zika.

Local spread of Zika has been reported (past or current) along the United States-Mexico border, and the mosquitoes that spread Zika are found on both sides of the United States-Mexico border. Healthcare providers caring for pregnant women who live near the border should assess their patients’ (and their patients’ partners’) travel history, including frequency of border crossing and length of stay in Mexico. For pregnant women who travel across the border regularly, healthcare providers should follow CDC’s guidelines, including testing recommendations as well as guidance from their respective state and local health authorities. Men who travel across the border and have a pregnant partner should not have sex with their partner or should use condoms for the entire pregnancy. Both men and women who live in the border region who are planning pregnancy should be counseled about Zika risk based on the most recent information on mosquito activity and Zika cases from the state and local health departments.

Patient Materials

Zika Virus Testing for Pregnant Women Living in an Area with Zika

Zika Virus Testing for Any Pregnant Woman Not Living in an Area with Zika

For Pregnant Women: A Positive Zika Virus Test: What does it mean for me?

What You Should Know about Zika Virus Testing: For Asymptomatic Pregnant Women with Ongoing Exposure to Zika

What You Should Know about Zika Virus Testing: For Symptomatic Pregnant Women with Exposure to Zika

What You Should Know about Zika Virus Testing: For Asymptomatic Pregnant Women with Recent Exposure to Zika

Clinician Resources

Zika Testing Algorithm for Symptomatic Pregnant Women

Zika Testing Algorithm for Asymptomatic Pregnant Women

Zika Screening Tool for Pregnant Women

Counseling Pregnant Travelers