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Patient Counseling

Travel Recommendations

CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with risk of Zika. If a pregnant woman is considering travel to one of these areas, she should talk to her healthcare provider. If she travels, 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. See Areas with Zika for recommendations for the United States.

Preventing Sexual Transmission

Pregnant women whose sexual partners have traveled to or lived in an area with risk of Zika 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. In particular, 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.
  • Discuss each type of Zika testing with the patient.
  • Inform patients of what test results could mean for their pregnancy.

Note: CDC issued a Health Alert Notice (HAN) to share emerging evidence about interpreting Zika IgM antibody test results of pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika virus, particularly women who live in or frequently travel to areas with a CDC Zika travel notice before conception. It is possible that some women who are currently pregnant may have been previously infected and developed antibodies against Zika prior to pregnancy. New data suggest that Zika virus infection, similar to some other flavivirus infections, may result in Zika antibodies staying in the body for months after infection, which may make it difficult to use these tests to determine whether women might have been infected before or after they became pregnant. This HAN has specific recommendations not currently a part of the existing laboratory guidance, which should be considered for these women: 1. that nucleic acid testing is considered at least once per trimester unless a previous test has been positive, and on amniocentesis specimens, if amniocentesis is performed for other reasons and 2. that IgM testing may be considered as part of pre-conception counseling. CDC recommends other diagnostic methods, such as nucleic acid testing and ultrasounds, which may provide additional information to help healthcare providers know if antibody test results might represent a recent infection. CDC is currently updating its webpages with this information.

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.

Zika virus transmission has been reported in Mexico, 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 for pregnant women residing in areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission, 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 Pregnant Women Who May Have Been Exposed to Zika within the Past Two Weeks

What You Should Know about Zika Virus Testing: For Pregnant Women with Exposure to Areas with a CDC Zika Travel Notice

What You Should Know about Zika Virus Testing: For Pregnant Women Who May Have Been Exposed to Zika 2-12 Weeks Ago

Clinician Resources

Testing Algorithm for Pregnant Women with Possible Exposure to Zika Virus

Zika Screening Tool for Pregnant Women

Clinician Guide: For pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika within the past two weeks

Clinician Guide: For pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika 2-12 weeks ago

Clinician Guide: For Asymptomatic Pregnant Women with Exposure to Areas with a CDC Zika Travel Notice