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.
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 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
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
- HAN Advisory: Prolonged IgM Antibody Response in People Infected with Zika Virus: Implications for Interpreting Serologic Testing Results for Pregnant Women (May 5, 2017)
- HAN Advisory: CDC Guidance for Travel and Testing of Pregnant Women and Women of Reproductive Age for Zika Virus Infection Related to the Investigation for Local Mosquito-borne Zika Virus Transmission in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas (December 14, 2016)
- HAN Advisory: CDC Updates Guidance for Pregnant Women and Women and Men of Reproductive Age for Zika Virus Infection Related to the Ongoing Investigation of Local Mosquito-borne Zika Virus Transmission in Miami-Dade County, Florida (October 19, 2016)
- Interim Guidance for Preconception Counseling and Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus for Persons with Possible Zika Virus Exposure – United States, September 2016 (MMWR, Sept. 30, 2016)
- Page last reviewed: May 8, 2017
- Page last updated: May 8, 2017
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