Emergencies preparedness, response

Information for travellers visiting Zika affected countries

Updated
31 May 2016

Based on available evidence, WHO has issued no general restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.

However, WHO is advising pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus oubreaks. This advice is based on the increased risk of microcephaly and other congenital malformations in babies born to pregnant women infected with Zika virus. Microcephaly is a condition where a baby is born with a small head or the head stops growing after birth.

As a precautionary measure, some national governments may make public health and travel recommendations to their own populations, based on their assessment of the available evidence and local risk factors.

Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Zika virus can also be transmitted through sex.

Before travelling to Zika affected areas

Travellers to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should seek up-to-date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

While in Zika-affected areas

Men and women should practice safer sex (including the consistent use of condoms) or abstinence to prevent Zika virus infection, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancies.

Prevent mosquito bites during the trip by following these measures:

  • wear clothing - preferably light coloured - that covers as much of the body as possible;
  • use insect repellent: repellents may be applied to exposed skin or to clothing, and should contain DEET, (diethyltoluamide) or IR 3535 or Icaridin. Repellents must be used in strict accordance with the label instructions;
  • use physical barriers such as regular or mesh screens or insecticide treated netting materials on doors and windows , or closing doors and windows; and
  • sleep under mosquito nets, especially during the day, when Aedes mosquitoes are most active.

Upon return home

To prevent the onward transmission of Zika and adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes, all returning travellers should practice safer sex, including through the correct and consistent use of condoms, or abstaining from sex for at least 8 weeks. If men experience symptoms (rash, fever, arthralgia, myalgia or conjunctivitis) then they should adopt safer sexual practices or consider abstaining for at least 6 months.

Sexual partners of pregnant women should practice safer sex or abstain for at least the duration of the pregnancy.

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