Zika and Travel
Here’s what you need to know:
- Areas with a risk of Zika are shown in purple on this world map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika
- There is a risk of getting Zika from infected mosquitoes if you travel to any area in purple.
- Light purple areas (above 6,500 feet) have low likelihood for Zika infection. Be sure to consider any possible travel through Zika-affected areas below 6,500 feet on the way to these destinations.
- Currently, there is no known risk of getting Zika from mosquitoes in the United States. There is no recommendation to avoid travel anywhere in the United States, even for pregnant women.
- Travel and Pregnancy
- Women who are pregnant should not travel anywhere there is a risk of getting Zika.
- Partners of pregnant women should not travel anywhere there is a risk of getting Zika. If a partner must travel to an area with a risk of Zika, they should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during travel, and have only protected sex, or not have sex, for the rest of the pregnancy.
- Travel and Planning Pregnancy
- Couples who are planning a pregnancy should consider not traveling anywhere there is a risk of getting Zika.
- Couples who do travel to an area with a risk of Zika should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during travel, and postpone trying to get pregnant for at least 2 months (for women) or at least 3 months (for men). During this wait time, they should not have sex, or should use a condom every time along with an effective method of birth control.
- Travel and Not Planning Pregnancy
- Couples who are not planning a pregnancy should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during travel.
- Many pregnancies are not planned. It is important to actively avoid pregnancy for at least 2 months (for women) or at least 3 months (for men) after traveling to an area with a risk of Zika. During this time, couples who are concerned about getting or passing Zika through sex should either not have sex, or use a condom every time along with an effective method of birth control.
Common Questions about Zika and Travel
- I’m pregnant. Can I go on a cruise to an area with Zika if I use insect repellent and stay on the ship the whole time?
Using insect repellent is helpful, but staying on the ship does not guarantee you will not be bitten by mosquitoes. Pregnant women should not travel anywhere there is a risk of Zika. Some cruise lines allow passengers to postpone their trips or change destinations because of Zika.
- Is there still a risk if I travel to a country with Zika but I stay at high elevations?
The mosquitos that can carry Zika usually do not live at elevations higher than 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). Travelers who never go below this elevation have much less risk of getting Zika from a mosquito. However, be aware that the areas where mosquitoes are found can change with the seasons and with increasing temperatures and rainfall. Travelers should also consider the elevation of all places on their travel itinerary, including airports and other stops.
- Can we travel to Disney World in Florida?
At the time of this writing, there are no Zika travel precautions in place for Disney World or any other area in Florida. Travelers to any area that has mosquitoes, including Florida, are still encouraged to avoid mosquito bites as a precaution.
- My wife is pregnant. I traveled to a country that has Zika but I don’t have symptoms. Do we still have to use condoms?
Only about 1 out of every 5 people infected with Zika will have symptoms. It is possible that you could have Zika even if you don’t have symptoms. Having protected sex, or not having sex, for the rest of the pregnancy is the best way to protect the pregnancy from Zika.
- I am a man who traveled to an area with Zika but I don’t have symptoms. Can I just get tested and then not worry about it?
Testing is not recommended for men who do not have symptoms, because there is no way to accurately test the semen for Zika at this time. The Zika virus can stay in semen for longer than in blood or urine. So a blood or urine test might come back negative, but you could still have the virus in the semen.
For this reason, men who travel to an area with Zika should have only protected sex, and avoid conceiving a pregnancy, for at least 3 months after travel. If their partner is pregnant, they should have only protected sex, or not have sex, for the rest of the pregnancy.