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Zika Virus

Zika virus is an infection spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Countries Affected by Zika Virus

Zika virus was first reported in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Past outbreaks of Zika virus infection have been reported in Africa, Asia and the Oceanic Pacific region (including French Polynesia). In 2015 and 2016, Zika virus was reported for the first time in the Americas, including Brazil and parts of Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Risk of Zika Virus in Canada

The risk of Zika virus to Canadians is relatively low. The two main types of mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) known to transmit Zika virus are not found in Canada because of its cool climate. However, there have been travel-related cases of Zika virus in Canada, involving people who have contracted the virus while traveling in countries where the Zika virus is known to circulate.

Advice for Travelers

If you plan to travel to countries where Zika virus is circulating, reduce your risk of getting sick by protecting yourself from mosquito bites at all times of the day. Use insect repellent and wear protective clothing. 

If you are pregnant (or considering becoming pregnant) and are going to travel to a country with Zika virus, discuss your travel plans with your health care provider to assess the risk. 

For additional information, please refer to the Government of Canada's Travel Health Notice for Zika Virus.

If you develop symptoms similar to Zika virus infection when you are traveling, or after you return, see a health care provider and tell them where you have been traveling or living.

Symptoms and Treatment of Zika Virus

Symptoms of Zika virus include low-grade fever, headache, pink eye, rash, joint/muscle pain, and lack of energy. The incubation period of Zika virus ranges from three to 12 days. The disease symptoms are usually mild and last for two to seven days. Approximately one in four people infected with Zika virus are believed to develop symptoms.

Most people fully recover without severe complications, and hospitalization rates are low. Zika virus infection may go unrecognized or be misdiagnosed as dengue, chikungunya or other viral infections causing fever and rash.

Currently, there is no vaccine for Zika virus, although the development of one is underway.

How Zika Virus is Spread

The majority of Zika virus cases are caused by the bite of infected mosquitoes. However, there is also evidence that mother-to-child transmission may occur. There have also been reports of Zika virus being spread through infected blood and sexual intercourse.

Additional Resources

Zika Virus Infection - Public Health Ontario

Zika Virus - Healthy Canadians

Zika Virus - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika Virus - World Health Organization

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