Updated October 2023

Zika virus continues to be a concern in many parts of the world. However, the risk of transmission to travelers is considered low.

Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the mosquitoes that also transmit dengue and chikungunya virus. These mosquitoes bite both indoors and outdoors and mostly during the daytime. Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually and through blood and tissue products.

  • The incubation period for Zika virus infection is from three to 14 days.
  • Symptoms usually last for two to seven days.
  • Approximately 75 per cent of Zika infections are asymptomatic. Disease is generally mild and characterized by acute onset fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, non-purulent conjunctivitis and general non-specific symptoms such as myalgia and headaches. Disease requiring hospitalization and fatalities are rare.
  • Treatment is supportive.
  • Patients should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage.
  • Zika virus RNA has been found in the body fluids (e.g., serum, saliva, urine, semen and vaginal secretions) of infected individuals. It is known to persist the longest in semen.
  • Exposure to Zika Virus during fetal development increases the risk of severe health outcomes, such as Congenital Zika syndrome.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) no longer recommends that pregnant women or women who are trying to conceive avoid travelling to countries or areas with risk of Zika virus. Instead, they are advised to discuss potential travel plans with a health care professional and may choose to avoid or postpone travel. PHAC continues to recommend that pregnant women avoid travelling to areas with a current Zika virus outbreak.

  • Health care providers should ask all pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy about recent travel and travel history of their sexual partner(s).
  • Patients who are planning to travel should be informed about mosquito bite prevention measures. 
  • Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant women when used as directed on the product label.