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Zika virus is a type of virus that is spread by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that carry Zika are most active during the day but can bite at night.
You're more likely to get the virus if you travel to parts of the world where it's more common. This includes parts of South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.
Zika infection is usually mild and may not cause symptoms. But it can be more serious for women who are pregnant because it can cause birth defects.
Experts have found that infection with Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). But only a small number of people who are infected with Zika virus will get GBS.
To learn more
Doctors are quickly learning more about what happens when people are infected with Zika virus. The most current information about Zika virus is available from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). If you are planning international travel, you can learn about the risk of Zika in the area you're travelling to. Contact:
You can get Zika from being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika virus is usually spread by two species of mosquitos that are found in warm, tropical climates.
Travellers who have Zika can spread it if they are bitten by a certain type of mosquito and then these mosquitoes bite other people. These mosquitoes are not found in Canada at this time.
A pregnant woman who gets infected with Zika can pass it to her unborn baby.
Zika can be spread through sexual contact even if the person does not have symptoms.
Most people infected with Zika don't have any symptoms.
The main symptoms are fever, rash, painful joints, and red eyes. Symptoms are usually mild. They most often start within a week after the bite.
Some people also have a headache and muscle pain.
There is no specific treatment for Zika virus. Symptoms usually go away on their own after about a week.
Treating your symptoms may help you feel better.
Experts believe that babies born to women infected with Zika virus are at risk for birth defects, including microcephaly (say "my-kroh-SEF-uh-lee"). Microcephaly means that the baby's head is smaller than normal. It causes problems in how the baby's brain develops.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that pregnant women wait until after they give birth before they travel to areas where there are Zika outbreaks.
Zika can spread through sexual contact even if the person does not have symptoms. If your male partner has been to an area where there is a Zika outbreak, the PHAC and CDC recommend you delay having sex until the baby is born or always use condoms correctly every time you have vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
If you are pregnant and have travelled to an area with an outbreak of Zika, talk to your doctor about getting tested for the Zika virus.
Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant and their male partners should talk to their doctor about their risk of travelling to areas where there are Zika outbreaks. Experts recommend that you avoid pregnancy if you or your male partner has been to an area with ongoing Zika transmission.
After returning from the area:
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus. But you can protect yourself from mosquito bites, especially when you travel. Remember that the mosquitoes that spread Zika are mainly active during the day.
If you have been to an area where there is a Zika outbreak, use condoms or do not have sex for at least 2 months for women and 6 months for men after returning from the area.
If you do get infected with Zika, protect yourself from mosquito bites. Men should always use condoms correctly or not have sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin. Women should always use condoms correctly or not have sex for at least 2 months after symptoms begin. This will help prevent the virus from spreading to other people.
Adaptation Date: 8/20/2021
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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