Zika virus and sex

Information for travellers to Zika-affected countries or areas and their partners.

Follow mosquito bite prevention measures and practice safe sex when travelling.

Always use condoms correctly or avoid sex to protect yourself and others following travel to a Zika-affected country or affected area. Infectious Zika can stay in semen and vaginal fluids for a prolonged period of time.

Men should practice safe sex or avoid sex for 3 months and women for 2 months following travel or illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) in order to prevent sexual transmission.

Travellers need to know:

  • Zika virus can spread though the bite of an infected mosquito or through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex as well as the sharing of sex toys with an infected man or woman.
  • Most people infected with Zika virus will have no symptoms or will have only mild symptoms.
  • You can spread Zika virus before symptoms appear, while you have symptoms, and for a period of time after symptoms have resolved. You can even spread Zika virus if you are infected but have no symptoms at all.

Who should be concerned:

  • Pregnant women and couples:
    • Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby.
    • The health risks are greatest for babies born to women infected during pregnancy, as the virus can cause severe birth defects.
    • To prevent infection use condoms correctly or avoid sex, for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Couples planning a pregnancy:
    • Women should wait 2 months after travel or after the onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer), before trying to conceive. This will ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared the body.
    • Men should wait 3 months after travel or after the onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer), before trying for a pregnancy because infectious Zika has been found in the semen of some infected men for a prolonged period of time after onset of illness. During that time, men should:
      • always use condoms correctly; or
      • avoid having sex.

    Talk to a health care professional if you have travelled to a Zika-affected country or area and are concerned about possible infection.

    For more information visit: Canada.ca/zika-virus

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Type: Poster

Date published: 2019-01-14

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