Travellers to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should be provided with up-to-date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites and, upon return, should take appropriate measures, including safe sex, to reduce the risk of onward transmission.
Based on available evidence, there are no general restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission. Countries reporting sporadic Zika infections in travellers arriving from affected countries pose little, if any, risk of onward transmission.
Pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, and not by person-to-person contact, though a small number of cases of sexual transmission have been documented.
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 has been found in human semen. Two reports have described cases where Zika has been transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact.
Until more is known about the risk of sexual transmission, all men and women returning from an area where Zika is circulating – especially pregnant women and their partners – should practice safer sex, including through the correct and consistent use of condoms, or abstaining from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
All travellers, including pregnant women, going to an area where locally acquired Zika infection is occurring should adhere closely to steps that can prevent mosquito bites during the trip. These include:
- wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible;
- using 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;
- using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows;
- sleeping under mosquito nets, especially during the day, when Aedesmosquitoes are most active;
- using physical barriers such mesh screens or treated netting materials on doors and windows; and
- identifying and eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites, by emptying, cleaning or covering containers that can hold even small amounts of water, such as buckets, vases, flower pots and tyres.