Preventing Zika During Pregnancy
Zika is a virus that causes a mild
infection in most people, but can lead to severe complications. It can cause severe
defects in an unborn baby if a pregnant woman has the virus and passes it to the fetus.
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika infection. If you live in or travel to an area
Zika, you can take important steps to protect yourself and your family.
How does Zika spread?
The Zika virus spreads through
mosquito bites and sexual activity. To prevent infection during pregnancy, you need
protect yourself from mosquitoes and use protection during any sexual activity. Rarely,
Zika can be spread through blood transfusions.
Protecting yourself during pregnancy
If you are pregnant right now:
Don’t travel to areas with active Zika.
If you do travel to an area with Zika, get tested for Zika within 2 weeks of returning
If you live in an area with Zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites (see below).
If you live in or you or your
partner travels to an area with Zika, use protection every time you have sexual
activity. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and use of shared sex toys.
Use condoms and dental dams. Or choose to not have sex during the pregnancy.
Get tested for Zika as often as advised by your healthcare provider.
Preventing mosquito bites
If you live in or travel to an area with Zika, protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Make sure to:
Get rid of standing water in your yard. Mosquitoes lay
eggs near water. Check pots and planters, outdoor kids’ toys, bird baths, and any
other containers for puddles of water. Empty the water regularly and keep these
areas clean and dry.
Choose air conditioning or screens. At home, don’t
leave windows or doors open unless they have screens. Patch any holes in the
screens. When picking a restaurant, hotel, or other venue, choose places with
screens in windows and doors, or air conditioning.
Wear protective clothing. Wear clothing that covers
your body to prevent mosquito bites. Choose clothing with long sleeves and long
pant legs. Wear socks and shoes to cover your feet and ankles.
Use insect skin spray often. Buy a skin spray that is
EPA-approved and contains DEET, picaridin (also called KBR 3023, Bayrepel, or
icaridin), oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthan-diol (PMD), or IR3535. Make
sure to follow the instructions on the label about how to apply and when to
reapply. Use it during the day and at night. EPA-approved insect sprays are safe
for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Use permethrin. This is a type of insecticide you can
apply to fabrics. If you are going camping, treat your clothing, shoes, and your
tent with permethrin. You can also buy gear that’s already treated. Don’t use
permethrin directly on your skin.
Sleep with a mosquito net. Make sure to use a mosquito
net if you are sleeping outdoors or in a place with no screens or air
If you think you may have Zika
If you live in or you or your partner visits an area with Zika, contact your healthcare
provider right away if you have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and can include fever,
rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle aches, and headache. You may need a blood or urine
test to check for the virus. There is no treatment for Zika. If you test positive
for Zika, your healthcare provider will closely watch the health of you and your baby
during your pregnancy.
What is the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry?
If you test positive for Zika, your information will be put into the U.S. Zika Pregnancy
Registry. This is a way for the CDC to track the virus and how it affects pregnant
women and babies. Your information is only used by the CDC’s health centers so they
can manage the virus and its effects. The information is sent to them by your healthcare
provider. It may include details about your health and your baby’s health up to 1