Personal protective measures for Zika virus disease

How can people get infected with Zika virus?

In most cases Zika virus is caught by getting bitten by a female Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes are mostly active during daytime and can also transmit other diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can be found in warm tropical climates and does not survive in cooler climate temperatures. Zika can also be transmitted by the Aedis albopictus mosquito, although it is still contested how effective Aedes albopictus is in transmitting the disease.

There is also evidence of transmission through sexual contacts and possibly also through blood donation, as well as from mother to child.

How can Zika be prevented?

The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites indoors and outdoors, especially from sunrise to sunset when mosquitos are most active.
Such measures include:

  • Use mosquito repellent in accordance with the instructions indicated on the product label.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers
  • Sleeping or resting in screened or air-conditioned rooms
  • Using mosquito nets

Other measures:

  • Using a condom when staying in an area with active Zika transmission and continuing to do so for at least eight weeks after returning from this area will reduce the risk of sexual transmission. If symptoms were experienced, condoms should be used for six months following the cessation of symptoms.
  • Travellers returning from Zika-affected areas are not allowed to donate blood until the risk of infection has passed, which is 28 days after returning from a Zika-affected area.

Latest personal protective measures for travellers

Publication

Rapid risk assessment: Zika virus disease epidemic. 10th update, 4 April 2017

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