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 Fact

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 these disease?

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

  • Which countries are affected?

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

  • 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. Possible links with a range of other complications are being investigated.1,4

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:
    • Visit your nearest convenient specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • 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®) or 50% DEET.1
    • 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 May 2018)
  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 May 2018)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika Virus. Reporting and Surveillance. Zika Cases in the US. Case Counts. May 2018. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/reporting/2018-case-counts.html (Last accessed May 2018)
  4. Gesundheit.GV.AT. Zika-Virus. Availble online: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/leben/gesundheitsvorsorge/reisemedizin/infektionskrankheiten/zika-virus (Last accessed May 2918)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 2 The Pre-Travel Consultation. Counseling & Advice for Travelers. Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. May 2017. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods (Last accessed May 2018)

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