What You Need to Know
Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquito bites. You can also get Zika through sex.
Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can spread Zika virus. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can also be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners, even if the person doesn’t have symptoms.
If you are pregnant and must travel to an area with risk of Zika, take steps to protect yourself and your pregnancy.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. It works and is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.
- Remove standing water around your home.
Zika is linked to birth defects.
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly that is a sign of incomplete brain development. Doctors have also found other problems in pregnancies and among fetuses and infants infected with Zika before birth. If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with a Zika outbreak (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map) or with current or past spread of Zika (as indicated by purple areas on the Zika map), use condoms or do not have sex during your pregnancy. To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map).
If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission during your trip. Before travel to areas with current or past spread of Zika (as indicated by purple areas on the Zika map), pregnant women and couples considering pregnancy should talk with their doctors or other healthcare providers and carefully consider risks and possible consequences of travel.
Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites and sex.
Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning from an area with risk of Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes. If a mosquito bites a person while he or she has Zika virus in his or her blood, the mosquito can become infected and then infect other people.
Couples with a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with a Zika outbreak (as indicated by red areas on the Zika map) or areas with current or past spread of Zika (as indicated by purple areas on the Zika map), especially those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, should take steps to protect themselves during sex. Zika can stay in semen for months after infection (even without symptoms), and can be spread to partners during that time.
Learn more about Zika with our fact sheets and posters.