Vicious virus which infects travellers in Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific through mosquito bites. Symptoms are mild, but pregnant women should watch out because Zika can cause serious birth defects.

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Key Facts around Zika

There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated. Although the Zika virus is mainly transmitted via mosquitoes, sexual transmission is also possible.1


  • How do people catch this disease?

    By being bitten by infected mosquitoes which carry the virus. The disease can also be caught through sex with an infected partner.1,4

  • Which countries are affected?

    Many countries in Central and South America, including the Caribbean and the state of Florida, a few countries in Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa (see map).2,3,4

  • What are the symptoms?

    Fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, joint pain, feeling of being generally unwell, headache.1,4

  • How serious is the disease?

    Some babies born to women who become infected have severely abnormal brain development (Microcephaly). Possible links with a range of other complications are being investigated.1,4

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching Zika?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:
    • Visit a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
      Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment: https://www.reisemedizincheck.at/en/find-a-travel-health-service
    • Take steps to avoid mosquito bites when mosquitoes are most active (during daylight hours)4,5
    • Use a recommended insect repellent containing either 20% Icaridin (e.g Moskito Guard®, for more information please see https://www.valneva.at/en/moskito-guard) or 50% DEET.4,5
    • Wear appropriate clothing (e.g long-sleeved clothes and long trousers)4,5
    • Use physical barriers, such as bed nets and window screens4,5
    • Practise safer sex (including using condoms)1
    • If pregnant or intending to become pregnant women should avoid travel to high-risk areas1,4
  1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Zika Virus. February 2018. Available online: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/zika-virus (Last accessed September 2020)
  2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Current Zika transmission. September 2017. Available online: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/current-zika-transmission-worldwide (Last accessed September 2020)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4 Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Zika. Availaible online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/zika (Last accessed September 2020)
  4. Gesundheit.GV.AT. Zika-Virus. Available online: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/leben/gesundheitsvorsorge/reisemedizin/infektionskrankheiten/zika-virus (Last accessed September 2020)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 3 Environmental Hazards & Other Noninfectious Health Risks. Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/noninfectious-health-risks/mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-arthropods (Last accessed September 2020)

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