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Zika illustration

What is Zika virus?

Virus infecting travellers in the Pacific region, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and parts of south Asia by mosquito bites. Symptoms are mild, but pregnant women should watch out because Zika can cause birth defects.

Zika illustration

Risk areas for Zika

Map of risk areas for Zika
  • Key fact

    The species of mosquito that transmits Zika is the same as the mosquito that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever.2

  • How do you get Zika virus?

    By being bitten by infected mosquitoes which carry the virus. The disease can also be caught through sex with an infected partner.2

  • Which countries are affected by Zika virus?

    Many countries in the Pacific region, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and parts of south and southeast Asia (see map).1,3,4

  • What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

    Symptoms appear between 3-14 days and are generally mild.2 They can last 2-7 days and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, joint pain, feeling of being generally unwell, and headache.2

  • How serious is Zika virus?

    Some babies born to women who become infected have severely abnormal brain development. Possible links with a range of other complications are being investigated.2

  • Can I prevent getting Zika virus?

    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
    • If pregnant or intending to become pregnant women should take extra care to avoid being bitten, and try to avoid becoming pregnant while travelling1
    • Use a recommended insect repellent containing either Picaridin, DEET, PMD or OLE, IR3535 or 2-undecanone5
    • Wear appropriate clothing (e.g loose fitting long-sleeved clothes, long trousers, socks and shoes) to minimise exposed skin6
    • Use mosquito nets if you are sleeping or resting in unscreened accommodation or sleeping outdoors during the day or night6
    • Practise safer sex (including using condoms)2

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  1. Conditions. Zika. December 2018. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  2. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Zika Virus. July 2018. Available at: (Last accessed May 2021)
  3. Guidance. Zika virus: country specific risk. July 2019. Available at: (Last accessed May 2021)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika Virus. Statistics and Maps. 2021 Case Counts in the US. April 2021. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 3 Environmental Hazards & Other Noninfectious Health Risks. Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. July 2019. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  6. Public Health England. Mosquito bite avoidance for travellers. August 2017. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)

UK-BOTB-2100033 May 2021