Where is Zika virus a risk?
Zika virus is usually spread by two species of mosquitoes that are found in warm, tropical climates. These mosquitoes cannot survive Canada’s colder climate.
What are the risks of traveling to countries and areas with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus?
There is an ongoing, low-level risk for Canadians traveling to countries and areas in the United States with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus.
However, special precautions to protect a developing fetus from exposure to the Zika virus must be taken by:
- Pregnant women
- Those planning a pregnancy
- Their sexual partners
What can you do to protect yourself from Zika virus?
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus.
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
If you’re traveling, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. Mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus bite both in daylight and evening hours.
Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Use condoms correctly and consistently or avoid having sex while traveling in countries and areas with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus.
What should you do when you return to Canada?
If you traveled to an area or country with reported mosquito-spread Zika virus be alert.
Speak to a healthcare provider if you:
- have or develop symptoms
- are pregnant
- become pregnant within 2 months of returning
- are pregnant and have had unprotected sexual contact with someone who was diagnosed with Zika virus infection
You will need to tell your healthcare provider:
- where you have been living and traveling
- if you have had sexual contact with a Zika-infected partner
For the first 6 months after returning to Canada from a country or area reporting mosquito-spread of Zika virus, you should:
- always use a condom correctly with a pregnant partner for the duration of the pregnancy
- always use a condom correctly or avoid having sex, with all sexual partners
- postpone donating semen
Symptoms of Zika virus
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
The main symptoms of Zika virus include:
- a flat, red rash on the skin covered with small bumps
- red eyes
- general symptomsinclude:
- lack of energy
- short-term muscle or joint pain
- possible joint swelling, mainly in the smaller joints of the hands and feet
- low-grade fever (38.5°C or lower)
Symptoms of Zika virus can be similar to other travel-related viral diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya. However, Zika virus symptoms are typically milder. Only 1 in 4 people infected with Zika virus are believed to develop symptoms.
It usually takes between 3 to 12 days for symptoms to appear after infection. The symptoms are usually mild and last for 2 to 7 days.
What do you do if you become ill?
See a health care provider if you:
- develop symptoms consistent with Zika virus, and you or your sexual partner have traveled to an area or country reporting mosquito-spread Zika virus
This is especially important for pregnant women and those with underlying conditions such as:
- type 1 diabetes
- a weakened immune system (ability to fight infection)