Travelling and Zika virus

Learn how to protect yourself from Zika when you travel.

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Where Zika is a risk

Zika is a risk in tropical climates. The virus that causes Zika is usually spread by two kinds of mosquitoes that are found there.

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 risks of travelling to Zika-affected countries or areas

Canadians are at risk for contracting Zika when travelling to Zika-affected countries or areas.

Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to Zika-affected countries or areas because:

  • women can pass the virus to their unborn babies
  • exposure to the Zika virus during fetal development increases the risk for serious birth defects

The Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted. Men can carry the Zika virus in their semen for up to 6 months. Partners should be aware of the risk so they can make:

  • informed travel decisions
  • safe choices about having sex

How to protect yourself from Zika

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against or treats Zika virus infection.

You can reduce your risk of getting Zika virus infection by:

  • protecting yourself from mosquito bites at all times if you're travelling. Mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus bite during the day and night.
  • using condoms correctly or avoiding having sex while travelling in Zika-affected countries or areas and continue to use them upon your return.

Get advice from a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.

See our Travel Health Notice for more recommendations on how to protect yourself.

What to do when you return to Canada

If you travelled to a Zika-affected country or area:

Women

Go to a health care provider if you:

Tell your health care provider:

  • where you've been living and travelling
  • if you have had unprotected sexual contact with someone who could be infected with the Zika virus

Men

For the first 6 months after returning to Canada from a Zika-affected country or area, you should:

  • always use condoms correctly with your pregnant partner for the duration of the pregnancy
  • always use condoms correctly or avoid having sex with any partner
  • postpone semen donations

Men and women wishing to donate blood following travel should visit the Canadian Blood Services or Héma-Québec websites for more information.

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