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Zika Virus: Information for Pregnant Women

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is Zika virus?

Zika virus is carried by mosquitos. The virus is spread to a human through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus may also be passed from one person to another through sex. Zika virus may be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. This may cause birth defects such as poor brain development. It may also cause pregnancy loss. There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection.

What increases my risk for Zika virus?

  • Living in an area with Zika virus
  • Travelling to an area with Zika virus
  • Having unprotected sex with someone infected with Zika virus

What are the signs and symptoms of Zika virus?

You may not have signs or symptoms of Zika virus. If you develop signs or symptoms, they may happen suddenly and last for 2 to 7 days. You may have any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Red or itchy eyes

How is Zika virus diagnosed and treated?

  • You will need to be tested for Zika virus if :
    • You are pregnant, have symptoms, and have possibly been exposed to Zika virus.
    • You are pregnant, have no symptoms but have continuous exposure to Zika virus, such as living in a Zika area.
    • You are pregnant, have possibly been exposed to Zika virus, and an ultrasound shows your fetus has congenital Zika infection syndrome.
    • You are pregnant and your sex partner is positive for Zika virus.
    • Testing may be considered if, you are pregnant, have no symptoms but have traveled to a Zika area.
  • You will be tested 3 times during your pregnancy if you live in a Zika area. You will not be tested again if you have already tested positive.
  • Your blood and urine will be collected and tested for infection. A sample of amniotic fluid may be taken. Amniotic fluid surrounds your baby in the womb. The fluid can be tested for Zika virus. You may also need an ultrasound or other tests. These tests can check for problems with your baby's development and growth. Examples include microcephaly (poor brain development). Information from these tests will help healthcare providers decide if your baby needs continued monitoring. It will also help providers plan for your delivery.
  • Your healthcare providers may not be able to tell if you were infected before or after you got pregnant. Zika antibodies can stay in your body for months after you were infected.
  • There is no treatment for Zika virus. If you become infected, you can take medicine to manage symptoms, such as pain and fever. You will also need to rest, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

What can I do to prevent mosquito bites?

Do not travel to areas where Zika virus is common. Ask your healthcare provider where it is safe to travel. Prevent mosquito bites to help decrease your risk for Zika virus infection:

  • Apply insect repellent. Ask your healthcare provider which insect repellent is right for you. Most insect repellents are safe to use during pregnancy. Follow directions on the insect repellent container. The following is a list of tips for insect repellent use:
    • Do not apply insect repellent to skin under clothing.
    • Apply sunscreen before you apply insect repellent.
    • Wear insect repellent any time you plan to be outside. Wear insect repellent at all times if you travel or live in a high-risk area. Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Apply insect repellent every day for 3 weeks after you travel to high-risk areas.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants. This will protect your skin from mosquito bites.
  • Use screens and nets. Use a mosquito net around your bed. When you travel, choose a place to stay with screens on all windows and doors. Place screens over windows and doors in your home. Fix holes or tears in screens and nets, or buy new screens and nets.
  • Keep doors and windows closed. If possible, use air conditioning to cool your home.
  • Apply insect repellent to clothing and gear. This includes boots, pants, socks, and tents. Do this when you camp, hike, or work outside. You can also buy clothing and gear that comes with insect repellent already on it.
  • Clean and empty containers of water once a week. Examples are animal bowls, buckets of water, gutters, flower vases, and bird baths. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Empty the water and scrub these containers with soap and water. Keep water containers covered with a tight-fitting lid, when possible.
  • Use insect sprays inside and outside of your home. Use an insect spray that is safe to use inside of your home. Place a device that sprays mosquitoes outside of your home. Place it in a dark, cool, area. Ask your healthcare provider where to buy these items. Follow directions that come with these products.

What can I do to prevent Zika virus infection through sex?

The following will decrease your risk for Zika virus. It will also decrease the risk that you will pass Zika virus to your baby.

  • Do not have sex with a man or a woman who is infected with Zika virus while you are pregnant. Do not have sex with a man or a woman who has been exposed to Zika virus while you are pregnant. Your partner may be at risk for exposure if he or she has traveled to an area with Zika infection. Sex includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
  • If you choose to have sex during pregnancy, use a condom or latex barrier every time you have sex. Use protection for all types of sexual contact with a man or woman. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Use a new condom or latex barrier each time you have sex. Make sure that the condom fits and is put on correctly. If you are allergic to latex, use a nonlatex product such as polyurethane.

Where can I get the most up-to-date information on Zika virus?

Knowledge about Zika virus is changing quickly. Get the most up-to-date information at:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on Zika Virus
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30329
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I call my doctor?

  • You think you have been exposed to Zika virus.
  • You have symptoms of Zika virus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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