Causes of Zika

Learn about how the Zika virus is spread and where it is found.

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How the Zika virus is spread

The Zika virus is primarily spread though the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus bite during the day and night.

The Zika virus can also be spread by:

  • sexual transmission through the:
    • semen of infected men
    • vaginal fluids of infected women
  • an infected pregnant woman to her developing fetus
  • infected people who donate:
    • cells
    • blood
    • tissue
    • semen
    • organs

The Zika virus can remain:

  • in the blood of an infected person for a week
  • in the semen of an infected male for up to six months

Where Zika is found

The two kinds of mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus are found in tropical climates. These mosquitoes:

  • generally don't live at elevations above 2,000 metres (about 6500ft)
  • are not naturally found in Canada but small numbers of both kinds have recently been found in Windsor, Ontario. All mosquitoes found in Ontario tested negative for the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization monitors Zika virus case reports from around the world. It publishes a list of countries or areas with recent or ongoing disease outbreaks, including outbreaks of the Zika virus.

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