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The Zika Virus Travel Advice Guide

Zika Virus is a potential risk when traveling to areas where mosquitoes spread the virus. Travelers can protect themselves by finding current transmission areas and taking precautions to prevent bites like wearing repellant. 

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Are you planning a trip soon? Are you concerned about Zika Virus? Keep reading to find out how you can take steps to prevent infection and where to find up-to-date information for travelers, expats, digital nomads!

In this article, we will explain Zika Virus, who is the most at-risk, and how you can make decisions for yourself. We’ll also include links to the most up-to-date guidelines and high-quality insurance plans. When your done reading this article, read the 14 most common diseases while traveling abroad!

What Is Zika Virus? 

Zika virus is a disease spread by certain mosquitoes and sexual contact. Most people infected with Zika virus do not have symptoms or have mild symptoms. Zika virus is known to cause birth defects when pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women contract the virus.

Sometimes other infections may have similar symptoms or be spread by mosquitoes. Find current information on the mosquito-borne diseases you must be aware of while traveling or staying abroad.

Zika Virus Travel Infographic

What Symptoms Does the Zika Virus Cause?

Zika virus may not cause any symptoms in infected people. For others, they may experience fever, headache, rash, muscle and/or joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms usually last up to one week and rarely require hospitalization.

Symptoms for Zika virus are similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. These viruses also cause fevers, aches, and rashes. 

Rarely, Zika virus can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy, and myelitis in older children and adults.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

Zika Virus is mainly spread when a certain type of mosquito, usually an Aedes Aegypti, bites an infected person. Later, the same mosquito bites another person and spreads the viral infection. Due to this, Zika virus is usually found in countries with this particular type of mosquito.

Zika virus may also be transmitted by sexual contact. In fact, you may transmit the virus through sexual contact for a couple of months after recovering from the virus.

Finally, the Zika virus is also passed from mother to fetus. This is the most concerning transmission source since unborn children are the most likely to suffer the worst effects from contracting the virus.

You will likely only get Zika virus once, so if you’ve had a laboratory-confirmed case, you won’t get Zika virus again. Fortunately, it isn’t as fatal as other diseases spread from animals, like rabies, but we’ll look into who needs to be the most careful about Zika virus below.

The Aedes Mosquito is the carrier of the Zika Virus

Where Can I Get Zika Virus while Traveling Abroad?

You’re most likely to contract the Zika virus in regions where the Aedes Aegypti mosquito lives or through sexual contact with a partner infected with the virus. The mosquito thrives in warm, moist climates like those found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Countries with Zika Virus

Past or current outbreaks have been in parts of North and South America, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Islands of the Pacific. Countries with moist, warm climates are the most likely to have Zika virus transmission. 

While the viral outbreak in 2015 originated in Brazil, infections in humans sporadically occurred in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands before then. By the beginning of 2016, the Zika virus epidemic had spread to more than 20 countries. Researchers were just beginning to understand how the virus spread and who was impacted.

Besides regions with documented outbreaks of Zika virus, there are other areas where the Aedes Aegypti mosquito lives. These areas include other parts of North and South America, Australia, Asia, Europe, and Africa. This means the regions have the potential for an outbreak.

The most up-to-date list of countries with Zika virus transmissions can be found through the CDC. Keep in mind that there are delays between transmission, detection, and then reporting. 

Zika Virus in the United States

Zika virus transmission has also occurred in the United States. Currently, there are no documented cases of Zika virus transmission in the United States. It’s still a good idea for travelers to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

The last documented case of transmission within the US was in 2017. Since 2019, there have been no reported Zika virus cases in the United States. If the United States has cases to report to travelers, the CDC will update information for travelers.

Are There Travel Restrictions Due to Zika Virus?

There are no travel restrictions in place due to the Zika virus. The risk for Zika virus complications in the general population is very low. The greatest travel concerns will be for pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women and their partners.

Zika Virus and Aedes Mosquito Virus Graphic

How to Avoid Zika Virus While Traveling Abroad

All travelers are recommended preventative measures like protective clothing and repellent are used in areas where the Zika virus can be transmitted. For pregnant and soon-to-be pregnant women, travel to these areas should be discussed with a healthcare provider. There is no vaccine for Zika virus.

Pregnant women, soon-to-be pregnant women, and their partners need to be the most diligent  about precautions against contracting or spreading the virus through mosquito bites and sexual contact.

Precautions for Pregnant or Soon-to-be Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should be aware of the risks that Zika virus poses to the fetus. For women who are uncomfortable with Zika virus-related pregnancy risks, we will cover what you need to do to minimize risk.

For the most caution, do not travel to regions with the potential for Zika virus. Avoid these regions during pregnancy and two months before becoming pregnant. Use condoms as protection or avoid sexual contact with any partner who has traveled to these areas.

Precautions for Partners of Pregnant or Soon-to-be Pregnant Women

Partners can spread the Zika virus for a couple of months after recovering from the virus. For the most caution, avoid sexual contact or use a condom with your partner during pregnancy. If you have traveled to a region where the Zika virus spreads, wait three months before conception.

What Happens If a Tourist Gets Sick Abroad With the Zika Virus? 

If you are traveling in a region where multiple mosquito-borne illnesses are spreading, you may need a medical provider to determine which virus has infected you. Urine and/or blood tests are used to confirm suspected cases of the Zika virus.

Since illnesses like the Zika virus can strike while traveling, make you have the medical insurance coverage you need abroad. Serious travelers and expats can find insurance that covers them abroad.

For travelers making shorter trips, always consider a travel insurance plan to cover financial costs of illness and medical emergencies on your trips.

Treatment for Zika Virus

Currently, there are no medications or vaccines for Zika virus. If you have contracted Zika virus, speak with your healthcare provider for the best advice on recovery. Avoid sexual contact and areas with mosquitos to prevent transmission.

The Effects of Zika Virus During Pregnancy

The Zika virus may cause congenital Zika virus infection, which may harm the fetus. This congenital infection is known to cause birth defects and other risks. This doesn’t mean a baby whose mother had Zika virus while pregnant will have defects, but the baby has a significantly increased risk.

Congenital Zika virus infection occurs when a pregnant mother is infected with the Zika virus and passes the infection to her fetus. Pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant travelers and expats of affected countries need to take precautions or alter travel plans.

Congenital Zika virus infection may result in pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and premature birth in addition to congenital birth defects. Research on the impact of congenital Zika virus infection and its effects is ongoing.

Birth defects include microcephaly and other brain defects. The exact risk for effects from congenital Zika virus infection is unknown. Children born with these defects will have lifelong complications. 

Some of these complications include microcephaly where part of the skull has collapsed, pigment changes and damage to the back of the eye, and restrictions to movement. Restriction to movement soon after birth can be caused by rigid muscles or joint problems like clubfoot.

Many studies regarding congenital zika virus infection came from Brazil, where residents and travelers were hit hard by the outbreak in 2015. These studies showed that children with a congenital Zika virus infection might also develop microcephaly after birth.


Zika virus risk to the general population is low. Travelers should make sure they know the current transmission information for any region they visit. Wear protective clothing and repellent to prevent mosquito bites, and use protection for sex. 

The biggest risk is to unborn children. Pregnant women, soon-to-be pregnant women, and their partners can take precautions to protect the fetus from the congenital risks of the Zika virus. Speak with your doctor about your travel plans and precautions.

For travelers to Singapore, check out our insurance plans specific to Singapore! We’ll make sure you have coverage and access to phenomenal healthcare for your visit.

Another destination? No problem. We have lots of coverage worldwide

Beyond this mosquito-borne illness, stay up-to-date on other travel-related diseases with serious risks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Zika virus still a travel concern?

Fortunately, no countries as of March 2023 are experiencing current Zika virus outbreaks. However that doesn’t mean the disease is gone. Protect yourself from Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by wearing protective clothing and repellent.

Does Zika virus matter in every trimester of pregnancy?

Zika virus may cause birth defects and congenital defects in any trimester of pregnancy. It is recommended that pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women avoid regions with active outbreaks and sexual contact with anyone who has traveled to those areas.

How do you know if a mosquito bite will spread Zika?

Mosquito bites that result in Zika virus infection look similar to any other mosquito bite. In fact, you may be infected and never develop symptoms. You will still be contagious through sexual contact, even if you do not have symptoms.

Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs
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