Pregnancy and Zika virus

Learn how Zika virus can affect your pregnancy or plans for a pregnancy.

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What are the risks of Zika virus during your pregnancy?

Most people who are exposed to Zika virus and have become infected do not develop any symptoms. However, Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can pose significant risks to the fetus, even if the woman does not develop symptoms of infection.

Zika virus in the developing fetus targets the nervous system and can lead to significant problems in the brain. It can also affect vision and hearing, and cause other issues such as contracted joints (joints with limited movement). These birth defects are now collectively referred to as Congenital Zika Syndrome.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should take special precautions to avoid infection with the Zika virus.

How can you prevent Zika virus?

If you are pregnant, you should avoid:

If you can't avoid travel:

  • take steps to prevent Zika virus infection by following strict mosquito bite prevention measures
  • seek advice from a health care professional at least 6 weeks before your departure date

If your sexual partner has travelled to an area with mosquito-spread Zika virus, protect yourself and your fetus from infection. Always use condoms correctly or avoid having sex for the duration of your pregnancy.

For men

If your partner is pregnant and you have travelled to an area with mosquito-spread Zika virus, for the duration of the pregnancy you should:

  • use condoms correctly and consistently
  • avoid having sex

Planning a pregnancy

If you have travelled to areas reporting mosquito-spread Zika virus and:

  • you're a female, wait at least 2 months before trying to conceive. This will ensure that any possible Zika virus has cleared your body.
  • you're a male, wait 6 months before trying to conceive. In that time use a condom correctly and consistently or avoid having sex because the Zika virus can remain in semen for up to 6 months.

What should you do if you think you might have Zika virus?

If you think you have been exposed to or infected with Zika virus, contact your health care provider to discuss testing options. Get tested especially if you:

  • are pregnant and have travelled to an area or country with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus
  • became pregnant within 2 months after travelling to an area or country with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus
  • are pregnant and have had unprotected sexual contact with someone who travelled to an area or country with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus and was diagnosed with Zika virus infection

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