Zika virus

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is caused by a virus which is primarily spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The Aedes species of mosquito is not native to Canada because of our climate.

There have been travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in Canada in returned travellers from countries where the virus is known to circulate.

The overall risk of infection to Canadians (while in Canada) is very low.

What are the symptoms?

Zika virus may have a combination of these symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Conjunctivitis or “Pink Eye”
  • Rash

The illness usually mild and lasts only a few days.

Photo of Aedes Mosquito

How is it spread?

Zika virus is primarily spread by the bite of an infected Aedes Species of mosquito. It is also spread:

  • Pregnant women
    Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman could be transmitted to her developing baby.
  • Sexual transmission
    The virus has been reported to be transmitted through semen from infected men.
  • Cell, blood and tissue donations
    The virus has been reported to be transmitted through blood transfusions from infected donors.

How can I prevent getting Zika Virus?

Travellers should be cautious when travelling to an area affected by Zika Virus. Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Travel Health webpage to learn more about your travel destinations and precautions to take. When travelling abroad, prevent insect bites.  

It is recommended that pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. Discuss travel plans with your health care provider to assess your risk. If travel cannot be postponed then strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed to protect themselves against bites.

I have travelled to an area with Zika. What should I do?

If you develop symptoms similar to Zika virus infection when you are travelling, or after you return, see your health care provider and tell them where you have been travelling or living.

  • 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 couples where the male partner has travelled in an area of risk, it is reasonable to delay trying to conceive for six months.
  • 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 with any partner for six months.
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