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Zika virus infection

Zika virus infection: Global Update

Travel Health Notice

Zika virus infectionExternal link is caused by a virus which is primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted by an infected pregnant woman to her developing baby and sexually transmitted by an infected man to his partner. Symptoms can include fever, headache, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and skin rash, along with joint and muscle pain. The illness is typically mild and lasts only a few days and the majority of those infected do not have symptoms. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection.

Zika virus is occurring in many regions of the world. Local transmission of Zika virus was first reported in the Americas in 2015. Currently there is ongoing local transmission in many countries of South Asia, Western Pacific Islands, and South and Central America, including the Caribbean, and Mexico.

In addition, Brazil has reported a significant increase in the number of newborns with microcephaly (abnormally small head) and a number of countries have reported an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barre SyndromeExternal link, a neurological disorder. Experts now agree that Zika virus infection causes both of these disorders.

There have been travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in Canada in returned travellers from countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks.

On March 8, 2016 the World Health Organization declared that the clusters of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders, continues to constitute aPublic Health Emergency of International ConcernExternal link.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaksExternal link. All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bitesExternal link. For additional recommendations please see the section below.

For the latest updates on countries affected by Zika virus, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s list of countries with reported locally acquired Zika virusExternal link.

This travel health notice will be updated as more information becomes available.


Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

  • Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks.
    • If travel cannot be avoided or postponed strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed due to the association between Zika virus infection and increased risk of serious health effects on their unborn baby.
  • Travellers returning from countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks:
    • For pregnant women, if you develop symptoms that could be consistent with Zika virus infection, you should consult a health care provider. 
    • For women planning a pregnancy, it is strongly recommended that you wait at least two months before trying to conceive to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
    • For male travellers, Zika virus can persist for an extended period of time in the semen of infected males, therefore
      • It is strongly recommended that, if you have a pregnant partner, you should use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy.
      • It is strongly recommended that you and your partner wait to conceive for six months by using a condom.
      • It is recommended that you should consider using condoms withany partner for six months.
  • Travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bitesExternal link at all times, as the Zika virus is transmitted by a mosquito that can bite in daylight and evening hours. These mosquitoes generally do not live or transmit disease at elevations above 2,000 meters. A list of how to prevent insect bitesExternal link is available on the Government of Canada’s website.
  • Most people who have Zika virus illness will have mild symptoms that resolve with simple supportive care. If you are pregnant, or you have underlying medical conditions, or you develop more serious symptoms that could be consistent with Zika virus infection, you should see a health care provider and tell them where you have been travelling or living.

In order to keep updated, please refer to the PHAC list of countries with reported cases of locally acquired Zika (this list gets updated on a regular basis):

Extracted from “Public Health Agency of Canada”