Protect your family from the Zika virus

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious problems. If you're pregnant and get infected with Zika, you can pass it to your baby. Some babies exposed to Zika in the womb may have birth defects and other serious health and development problems.

 If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, here's how you and your partner can protect yourselves from Zika:

  • Don't travel to a Zika-affected area unless you absolutely have to. If you visit these places, talk to your health care provider before your trip and learn how to prevent mosquito bites when you travel to these areas. See for CDC travel alerts updates.

  • Prevent mosquito bites. Follow our tips below to protect yourself from bites.

  • Don't have sex with a partner who has Zika or who has recently visited a Zika-affected area. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom or dental dam) every time.

  • If you work in a health care setting (like a hospital or lab), follow your workplace safety rules. Don’t have direct contact with body fluids and lab samples that may be infected with Zika virus. Wear gloves, a gown, a mask and goggles. If you have direct contact with infected patients, fluids or lab samples, wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol in it. Follow safety rules for throwing out needles and other items that may have body fluids on them.

  • If you have or may have Zika, wait at least 4 weeks before donating blood and don’t donate umbilical cord blood (also called cord blood). Cord blood is the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta after your baby is born and the cord is cut. It’s possible that Zika may spread through cord blood.

  • If you’re thinking about getting pregnant with donated sperm, talk to your provider. Donated sperm isn’t tested for Zika, but donors are asked if they’ve been in a Zika-affected area. If so, their sperm isn’t allowed.

To help prevent mosquito bites:

  • Use an insect repellant (a product that keeps insects from biting you), like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and work well. Make sure the product contains one or more of these substances that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535 and 2-undecanone.

  • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. If you’re spending time hiking, camping or doing other outdoor activities, treat clothes, shoes and other gear with a bug spray called permethrin, or wear permethrin-treated clothes. Don’t spray permethrin directly on your skin.

  • Stay in places with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Check that the screens don’t have holes in them.

  • Remove still water from inside and outside your home or workplace. Check things like flowerpots, buckets, animal water bowls and children’s pools. Scrub them clean and turn them over or cover them so that they don’t collect water. Mosquitoes can lay eggs inside or outside in very small amounts of water, like the size of a bottle cap.

  • If you’re in a Zika-affected area and sleeping outside or in a room that doesn’t have screens on doors and windows, sleep under a mosquito bed net. Get one that’s approved by the World Health Organization Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (also called WHOPES) and that’s treated with permethrin. If you use a net with permethrin, don’t wash it or put it in the sun. You can buy mosquito bed nets at an outdoors store.

  • Put mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller or crib to help keep your baby safe from mosquitoes. Make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

If you or your partner have or may have been exposed to Zika, when is it OK to get pregnant?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says:

  • If you have signs or symptoms of Zika, wait at least 8 weeks from your first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.

  • If you think you were exposed to Zika but don’t have signs or symptoms, wait at least 8 weeks from when you think you were exposed before trying to get pregnant.

  • If your partner has signs or symptoms of Zika, wait at least 6 months from his first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.

  • If your partner has been exposed to Zika but doesn’t have signs or symptoms, wait at least 6 months from when he thinks he was exposed before trying to get pregnant.

It’s best to wait at least this long to be sure you and your partner aren’t infected with Zika virus when you try to get pregnant. Use birth control until you’re ready to get pregnant. If you live in or often travel to a Zika-affected area, ask your health care provider about getting tested for Zika before you try to get pregnant.

Learn more about the Zika virus and pregnancy.