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a.k.a Zeke

Vicious virus which infects travellers in Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific through mosquito bites. Symptoms are mild, but pregnant women should watch out because Zika can cause serious birth defects.

Key Fact

The species of mosquito that transmits Zika is the same as the mosquito that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever.1

disease risk map

How do people catch the disease?

By being bitten by infected mosquitoes which carry the virus. The disease can also be caught through sex with an infected partner.1

Which countries are affected?

Many countries in Central and South America, including the Caribbean and the state of Florida, and a few countries in Southeast Asia (see map).2,3

What are the symptoms?

Fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, joint pain, feeling of being generally unwell, headache.1

How serious is the disease?

Some babies born to women who become infected have severely abnormal brain development. Possible links with a range of other complications are being investigated.1

Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

  • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
  • Take steps to avoid mosquito bites when mosquitoes are most active (during daylight hours)4
  • Use a recommended insect repellent containing either 20% Picaridin (e.g Moskito Guard®), DEET or PMD5
  • Wear appropriate clothing (e.g long-sleeved clothes and long trousers)4
  • Use physical barriers, such as bed nets and window screens4
  • Practise safer sex (including using condoms)1
  • If pregnant or intending to become pregnant women should avoid travel to high-risk areas1


1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Zika Virus. September 2016. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/ (Last accessed September 2017)

2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Current Zika transmission. September 2017. Available online: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/current-zika-transmission-worldwide (Last accessed September 2017)

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika Virus. Reporting and Surveillance. Zika Cases in the US. 2017 Case Counts. September 2017. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/reporting/2017-case-counts.html
(Last accessed September 2017)

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 2 The Pre-Travel Consultation. Counseling & Advice for Travelers. Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. May 2017. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods (Last accessed September 2017)

5. Public Health England. Mosquito bite avoidance for travellers. August 2017. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mosquito-bite-avoidance-for-travellers (Last accessed September 2017)


UK/TRA/0817/0171j September 2017