Diseases and Conditions

Zika virus

Risk factors

Factors that put you at greater risk of developing the Zika virus include:

  • Living or traveling in countries where there have been outbreaks. Being in tropical and subtropical areas increases your risk of exposure to the virus that causes the Zika virus. Especially high-risk areas include several islands of the Pacific region, a number of countries in Central, South and North America, and islands near West Africa. Because the mosquito that carries the Zika virus is found worldwide, it's likely that outbreaks will continue to spread to new regions.

    The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are found in some parts of the United States. Most cases of the Zika virus infection in the U.S. have been reported in travelers returning to the U.S. But local transmission has been reported in certain areas of the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

  • Having unprotected sex. The Zika virus can spread to another person through sex. If male sex partners or a couple that includes a male and female partner travel to an area with a Zika risk, the CDC suggests using condoms or avoiding sex for three months. If female partners travel to an area with a Zika risk, the CDC suggests using condoms or avoiding sex for at least two months. Also, the CDC advises abstinence from sexual activity during pregnancy or condom use during all sexual contact for a pregnant woman or her partner who have traveled to or lived in an area of active Zika virus transmission.