How can I avoid contracting the Zika virus?

To avoid contracting the Zika virus, take proper precautions to avoid being bitten by the mosquito that transmits the virus. Avoid going to an area where Zika is endemic. If you're actively trying to become pregnant, postpone your vacation, and if you’re in a situation where you can’t postpone a trip for some reason–if it’s a business trip that you can’t get out of–take all the proper precautions to avoid being bitten by the mosquito. Or, if a sexual partner’s involved, if you’re pregnant, use a condom every time throughout the entire pregnancy, even if the exposure was months ago.

If you’re just going for travel, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, use an EPA-approved mosquito repellant to help avoid the spread. Even though there has not yet been a mosquito-borne illness in the United States, mosquito populations increase in the summer. The United States does have the same types of mosquitoes that transmit the disease so, it’s only a matter of time before someone coming back from Puerto Rico, is at a backyard barbeque and gets bitten by a mosquito and then someone at the same party could contract the disease in that way. So far, there’ve been none of those cases in the United States but it’s only a matter of time.

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To avoid contracting the Zika virus, you should do the following:

  • Avoid mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and wearing mosquito repellent in areas known to have Zika and/or Aedes mosquitos.
  • Avoid sexual contact with a person infected with Zika, or use a condom during sexual contact with a person infected with Zika.

Zika is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. It can also be transmitted to people through sexual contact with an infected person or contact with the blood or urine of an infected person. Zika is thought to live in semen for a longer time frame than other bodily fluids.

There’s no vaccine to help prevent the Zika virus. If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, here's what you and your partner can do to protect yourselves from Zika:
  • Don't travel to a Zika-affected area unless you absolutely have to. If you do visit these areas, talk to your healthcare provider before go and take steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. Zika is most often spread by mosquitoes.
  • Prevent mosquito bites. Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA).
  • Don't have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently travelled to a Zika-affected area. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom) every time. Zika can spread through unprotected sex with an infected person.
  • If you work in a hospital, doctor’s office, lab or other health care setting, follow your workplace safety rules. Wear gloves, a gown, a mask and goggles. Don’t have direct contact with body fluids and lab samples that may be infected with Zika virus. Zika can spread through contact with infected body fluid.
  • If you have or may have Zika, wait at least 4 weeks before donating blood and don’t donate umbilical cord blood (also called cord blood). It's possible that Zika may spread through cord blood.
  • If you're thinking about getting pregnant with donated sperm, talk to your provider. Donated sperm isn't tested for Zika, but donors are asked if they've been in a Zika-affected area. If so, their sperm isn't allowed to be used. But because the sperm's not tested, there may be some risk of infection.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.