There is no vaccine to protect against the Zika virus. But you can take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.
If you or your partner is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, these tips may help lower your risk of Zika virus infection:
Plan travel carefully. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where there is an outbreak of the Zika virus.
If you're trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether you or your partner's upcoming travel plans increase the risk of Zika virus infection. Your doctor may suggest you and your partner wait to try to conceive for two to three months after travel.
- Practice safe sex. If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where there is an outbreak of the Zika virus, the CDC recommends abstaining from sex during pregnancy or using a condom during all sexual activity.
If you are living in or traveling to areas where the Zika virus is known to be, take steps to reduce your risk of mosquito bites:
- Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing. The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are most active from dawn to dusk, but they can also bite at night. Consider sleeping under a mosquito bed net, especially if you are outside.
- Wear protective clothing. When you go into mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes.
- Use insect repellent. You can apply permethrin to your clothing, shoes, camping gear and bed netting. You can also buy clothing made with permethrin already in it. For your skin, use a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or one of the other active ingredients registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and known to be effective against mosquitoes. When used as directed, these repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Reduce mosquito habitat. The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus usually live in and around houses and breed in standing water that has collected in containers such as animal dishes, flower pots and used automobile tires. At least once a week, empty any sources of standing water to help lower mosquito populations.
The Zika virus and blood donation
In some cases, the Zika virus has spread from one person to another through blood products (blood transfusion). To reduce the risk of spread through blood transfusion, blood donation centers in the United States and its territories are required to screen all blood donations for the Zika virus. If you had Zika or if you live in the U.S. and recently traveled to an area where the Zika virus is widespread, your local blood donation center may recommend that you wait four weeks to donate blood.