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Zika Virus - Prevention

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Published on July 06, 2017. Last modified on August 10, 2018

No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.  Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites when traveling to countries where Zika virus is present:

  • Use insect repellents.  When used as directed, insect repellents are safe and effective for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women.  Most insect repellents can be used on children.  Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus in children under the age of 3 years.  Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
  • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first then the repellent.  Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing.
  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.CDC_Condoms

Using condoms can help reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.  Condoms include external ("male") and internal ("female") condoms.  To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and during sexual activity with shared sex toys.  Dental dams may also be used for certain types of oral sex (mouth to vagina or mouth to anus).  Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex.

For Couples Trying to Conceive

CDC now recommends that men with possible Zika virus exposure who are planning to conceive with their partner wait at least 3 months after symptoms or possible exposure (travel to or residence in an area with risk of Zika). This shortened timeframe also applies for men who are not planning to conceive with their partners but who want to prevent passing Zika virus through sex. These updated recommendations are based on emerging data which suggest that risk of infectious Zika virus in semen appears to decline substantially during the 3 months after onset of symptoms. All other Zika guidance remains unchanged. Men with possible Zika virus exposure whose partner is pregnant should use condoms or the couple should not have sex for the entire pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission.