Skip to main content


Click to enlarge

How can I protect myself against Zika?

A mosquito-borne virus called Zika has been causing concern among travellers. Infection with the Zika virus has been linked to birth defects. Are you worried about Zika? Come and talk to a nurse adviser at Canadian Travel Clinics.

What is Zika?

Zika is a viral disease spread by day-biting Aedes mosquitoes.

Why is Zika a problem?

Zika is a mild illness, but infection during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects that affect skull size and brain development among other things.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Zika symptoms are very mild and include rash, itch, mild fever, headache, red eyes and muscle and joint pains. If you experience any of these symptoms on your return from a country with a Zika risk, get medical attention.

If you are pregnant and you get these symptoms, get medical advice.

You will need to get advice about avoiding conception for a period after a Zika infection.

Zika may be sexually transmitted so you should take steps to protect anyone you are close to, particularly if they are pregnant.

Where is Zika a problem?

Zika first appeared in Africa in the 1940s, but in recent years outbreaks have been cropping up around the world, particularly in South America and South East Asia. A country’s Zika risk status may change rapidly, so you need to keep an eye on a reliable, up-to-date resource before you travel, such as The Public Health Agency of Canada’s list, Countries with recent or ongoing risk of Zika virus infection.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should avoid travel to countries with a recent or ongoing risk of Zika.

I’ve been to a country where Zika occurs. What should I do?

When you return from a region with any risk of Zika you need to avoid conception by using condoms for at least eight weeks if you a woman and six months if you are a man. It is thought that Zika can be sexually transmitted.

How do I avoid Zika?

There is no vaccine that will protect you from Zika.

You can reduce your chances of catching Zika in countries with ongoing transmission by practising mosquito-bite avoidance. Your travel health nurse will have some tips to help you achieve this. All travellers should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes because they carry dangerous diseases – apart from Zika, they are vectors of malaria, yellow fever, Dengue fever and Chikungunya fever. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are strongly advised to avoid mosquito bites. You can avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents (50% DEET is recommended and considered safe during pregnancy) and by wearing long, loose clothing with good limb coverage. Sleeping rooms should be equipped with air conditioning, screens or mosquito nets.

Zika may be sexually transmitted, so you will want to use condoms if your sexual partner has visited a region with a Zika risk, or if they have had Zika.

For more information about Zika, talk to one of our nurse advisers when you come to one of our centres for your travel vaccinations in Okotoks, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Medicine Hat.