Zika and Pregnancy

Zika Virus

Travel Alerts

If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, do not travel to a Zika-affected area. Zika is affecting parts of Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and other places listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also affecting two areas of Miami-Dade County in Florida, where the Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes. Please read the CDC's Advice for People Traveling to South Florida.

Read the pregnancy warning and download our Zika travel warning materials for additional information.

We continue to collect Zika data. Zika case counts will return when the next Mosquito Season begins in April.

Providers looking for the latest information, including laboratory test instructions and forms, health alerts, and latest guidance, click here.


Learn About Zika Virus

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Basic Facts

  • People usually get Zika through a mosquito bite—but only certain kinds of mosquitoes (Aedes mosquitoes) can spread Zika.
  • Zika can also be spread through sexual contact and blood contact (i.e. blood transfusions, sharing injection equipment, etc.). Zika is not spread by casual contact.
  • Most people (80%) who get infected with Zika do not get sick. For those who do get sick, the sickness is usually mild.
  • Since Zika causes birth defects, there is special guidance related to pregnancy. See below.
  • There is no Zika vaccine and no medicine that treats Zika.

Learn about symptoms+

Most people with Zika (80%) have no symptoms and may not know they are infected.

For those who have symptoms, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Most people have mild symptoms and do not need to go to a hospital. Severe complications, such as paralysis or brain infection, are rare. Symptoms usually start two to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may last up to a week.

Zika symptoms are similar to symptoms of other diseases caused by mosquitoes, such as dengue virus or chikungunya virus.

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Learn about testing+

Most people do not need to get tested for Zika virus, even if they traveled to a place where Zika is spreading. Testing is most important for pregnant women who spent time in a Zika-affected area or who, while pregnant, had unprotected** sex with a person who has or might have Zika.

There are two types of tests to diagnose Zika virus infection:

  1. RT-PCR: This test looks for Zika viruses in the blood or urine.
  2. Serology: This test checks your blood for antibodies that fight a Zika virus infection.

If you receive a positive result for a Zika virus test, it may mean that you are infected, or were infected in the past.

However, a negative result does not necessarily mean that you were not infected. For example, if you had the test soon after you became ill, your body may not have had time to produce antibodies for the test to measure. Your doctors might want to do additional tests to confirm.

Talk to your doctors if you have any questions or concerns. They can use the test results to help you make decisions about how to stay healthy.

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Learn about treatment+

There is no treatment for Zika, but medicine (like acetaminophen) can help relieve the symptoms. Most people recover on their own by resting and drinking fluids.

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Learn about affected areas+

Zika is affecting parts of Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and other places listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The type of mosquito linked to the current outbreak, Aedes aegypti, lives in these places. Aedes aegypti has not been found in New York City.

A different Aedes mosquito is found in New York City. This mosquito is called Aedes albopictus. Aedes albopictus is able to spread Zika to people, but health experts are still learning whether it is likely to spread Zika to people. Just because a mosquito can carry the virus does not mean that it will cause an outbreak. Health experts have not found Zika in any local mosquitoes but are planning for the possibility that Aedes albopictus could get infected with Zika locally and are taking aggressive steps to monitor this and take action if needed. Read “What the City is Doing” on nyc.gov/health/zika for the City’s latest actions.

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Learn about the pregnancy warning+

Zika is not dangerous for most people. However, Zika causes birth defects. One birth defect linked to Zika is a smaller than normal head. This condition is called “microcephaly.” Health experts are still learning about the link between Zika and microcephaly. The latest guidance to avoid this risk is below.


Guidance for Pregnant Women and Their Sex Partners

Pregnant woman who did not travel to a Zika-affected area Do not travel to a Zika-affected area during your pregnancy.

If it’s not possible to delay travel, talk to a health care provider first, and take steps to protect yourself while traveling. Review the guidance below on sexual transmission and safe and healthy travel.

Pregnant woman who did travel to a Zika-affected area Call your health care provider to discuss Zika testing.
Pregnant woman’s sex partner has or might have Zika

Plan together to abstain from sexual activity or use condoms (or other barrier protection**) correctly every time you have vaginal, anal and/or oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant and had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with a person who has or might have Zika, contact your health care provider to discuss Zika testing.

**”Barrier protection” means male or female condoms for vaginal and anal sex, and dental dams for oral sex. “Unprotected” sex means sex without barrier protection.

Guidance for People Trying to Conceive

Testing for Zika virus is not recommended for couples trying to conceive. Instead, follow this guidance to reduce your risk:

People who did not travel to a Zika-affected area Do not travel to a Zika-affected area while trying to conceive.
Woman has or might have Zika Symptoms Wait at least eight weeks after symptoms started before trying to conceive
No symptoms Wait at least eight weeks after last possible Zika exposure before trying to conceive
Man has or might have Zika Symptoms  Wait at least six months after symptoms started before trying to conceive
No symptoms Wait at least six months after last possible Zika exposure before trying to conceive

Find more information about Zika and pregnancy at  cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy.

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Learn about sexual transmission+

Both men and women can spread Zika through sex. Sex includes vaginal, anal and oral sex and/or sharing sex toys. Health experts are still learning about this risk. People who travel to Zika-affected areas should use barrier protection** and birth control while they are traveling and after they return home. Barrier protection** may stop Zika from spreading sexually. Birth control helps prevent pregnancy in which one or both sex partners might have Zika.


Guidance to Avoid Spreading Zika Sexually

While traveling to a Zika-affected area Use birth control and barrier protection** correctly
After returning home from a Zika-affected area Women:
  • Continue using birth control to prevent pregnancy for eight weeks after returning home.
  • Use barrier protection** correctly every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex for eight weeks after returning home.
Men:
  • Use barrier protection** correctly every time you have vaginal, anal and/or oral sex for six months after returning home.

**”Barrier protection” means male or female condoms for vaginal and anal sex, and dental dams for oral sex. “Unprotected” sex means sex without barrier protection.
For a complete list of birth control options, visit nyc.gov and search “birth control”.

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Learn about blood donation+

It is rare but possible for Zika to spread from one person to another through a blood transfusion. To help prevent this from happening, follow the guidance below:


Guidance for Donating Blood

People who traveled to an affected area Wait four weeks after returning home before donating blood.
People who had unprotected** sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with a person who was in an affected area within three months of the latest sexual contact Wait four weeks after the last sexual contact before donating blood.
People who traveled to an affected area and already donated blood within four weeks of returning home

Tell the facility where you gave blood if you have two or more of these symptoms within two weeks of giving blood: fever, joint pain, rash or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

If you have symptoms, avoid donating more blood until the symptoms have been gone for at least four weeks.

Barrier protection” means male or female condoms for vaginal and anal sex, and dental dams for oral sex. “Unprotected” sex means sex without barrier protection.

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Learn about infants and children+

According to the CDC:
  • Infants and children can get Zika.
  • Symptoms in infants and children are the same as those described above in “Symptoms.”
  • Infection with Zika around the time of birth or in early childhood has not been linked to microcephaly.
  • Zika has been found in breastmilk, but there are no reports of mothers spreading Zika to their infants through breastmilk. The CDC encourages mothers in Zika-affected areas to keep breastfeeding because of its many benefits.
  • More information for parents is available at cdc.gov/zika.

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Learn about safe and healthy travel+

If you are traveling to a Zika-affected area, read the pregnancy and sexual transmission warnings above, and take steps to avoid mosquitoes. The tips below are important for everyone traveling to a Zika-affected area—but especially for pregnant women who cannot delay travel.
The type of mosquito linked to the current outbreak is very aggressive. The mosquito bites during the day and early evening.

  • Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
    • Use repellents approved by the EPA, and follow the directions on the label
    • Apply sunscreen first, then repellent.
    • Insect repellent is safe for pregnant women.
    • Do not use insect repellent on infants less than 2 months old. Do not use repellent containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under age 3. Do not allow young children to apply insect repellent themselves.
    • Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth or any irritated skin or cuts.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants; dress children the same way. Wear clothing treated with permethrin (a chemical that repels insects).
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.
  • Use a mosquito bed-net if you cannot keep mosquitos out of your residence. Cover cribs, strollers and baby carries with mosquito netting.
  • Get rid of standing water that collects in and around your residence, because standing water attracts mosquitoes.

The CDC recommends that travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika-affected places take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, even if they do not feel sick, to avoid spreading Zika to local mosquitoes.

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Learn about mosquito prevention in New York City+

Zika has not been found in New York City mosquitoes, but local mosquitoes can spread other diseases, like West Nile virus. New Yorkers can help stop the spread of mosquito-borne viruses by following these steps: 

  • Apply insect repellents and wear long sleeves or pants in the evening during peak mosquito season (June through September).
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
  • Empty standing water from containers such as flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths. A very small body of water can be the breeding ground for hundreds of mosquito eggs.
  • Make sure backyard pools are properly maintained and chlorinated.
  • Report standing water to 311. The Health Department inspects standing water complaints and files notices of violation against property owners who fail to get rid of it. When standing water cannot be drained, the City applies treatments called larvicides that kill mosquitoes before they mature and can spread disease.

**”Barrier protection” means male or female condoms for vaginal and anal sex, and dental dams for oral sex. “Unprotected” sex means sex without barrier protection.

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Zika Materials

View the Health Department’s Pregnancy Travel Warning 12x18 Poster (PDF)
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Pregnancy Travel Warning 8.5x11 Poster (PDF)
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Read the Health Department's Travel Warning Flyer (PDF)
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Read Zika: Do I Need to Get Tested? (PDF) Other Languages:[Español] [Kreyòl ayisyen] [Português Brasileiro] [Français] [简体中文] [中文][বাংলা] [Русский] [Nederlands] [한국어] [Português]

Call 311 to order copies of the Pregnancy Travel Warning poster, available in all translated languages.


Zika Campaign Resources+

Fight Back NYC is a citywide campaign to inform New Yorkers on how they can reduce and prevent mosquito bites.

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News

The CDC's Public Health Matters Blog spoke to Mario Merlino, Assistant Commissioner of Pest Control and Veterinary Services, and how West Nile helped New York City prepare for Zika.

Read more+


More Zika Info

For help finding a hospital or clinic, call 311.

Include @NYCHealthy, @DrMaryTBassett and @DrJayVarma on Twitter for the latest health alerts. Also visit: