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Zika Virus


If you have specific concerns or questions about the Zika virus, contact your family physician or local health unit.  You can also speak to a health-care professional any time of day or night by dialing 8-1-1.

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Zika virus causes infections in humans and is transmitted by mosquitos found in South America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Originally found only in Africa and Asia, the virus spread to the Western Hemisphere in 2015. Zika is from the same family of viruses as Dengue and West Nile Virus which are transmitted by the same types of mosquitoes.  Although not a common means of transmission, the virus can be spread through sexual contact with a man with Zika virus infection.

A current list of affected countries can be found on the Government of Canada Zika virus website. 

80% of people with Zika virus infection will not show any symptoms and may not be aware they have been infected. If symptoms occur, they may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The infection is usually mild and lasts for a week or less.

In a minority of pregnancies, Zika virus infection has been shown to cause microcephaly (a congenital disorder) and may be associated with other complications in pregnancy.   The available evidence indicates that there is no risk to subsequent pregnancies if a woman waits 2 months after Zika virus infection to conceive a child. It appears that, on very rare occasions, Zika virus infection can result in an abnormal immune response directed at nerve tissue resulting in Guillan-Barré syndrome (GBS) or acute disseminated myelitis (ADEM) and perhaps other neurologic conditions.  

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika virus at this time.

For people living in the province, Zika virus is considered a travel-related infection. The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are not present in Canada so the risk of Zika virus circulating in British Columbia is very low.

Advice to British Columbians travelling to regions where Zika virus is circulating

  • Seek travel advice from a travel medical clinic prior to departure.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks.  If travel cannot be postponed, strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed due to the association between Zika virus infection and increased risk of serious health effects on their unborn baby. 
  • For all travellers, in order to avoid mosquito-borne infections such as Zika virus, recommendations include avoiding mosquito bites throughout the day and evening, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, using approved insect repellent and sleeping in air conditioned or screened-in rooms. Approved insect repellents are safe to use by pregnant women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Insect Repellent Use & Safety).  Additional details on preventing insect bites are provided on the Government of Canada - Insect bite prevention webpage )

When You Get Back Home

  • If you are unwell while travelling in areas where Zika virus infections are occurring or become unwell within two weeks of returning from travel, see your doctor and tell them where you have travelled.
  • If you are pregnant, or become pregnant while travelling in an area where Zika virus infections are occurring, see your doctor and tell them where you have travelled.
  • If you and your partner are considering pregnancy after travel to a Zika virus affected area, it is advised that you talk to your health care providers. 
    • Current recommendations are that women consider a delay in conceiving a child for 2 months and that a male partner delay conceiving a child for 3 months after returning from travel to a Zika virus affected area.
  • If you are a male who has travelled to a Zika virus affected area and your partner is pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, it is recommended that you consider abstinence or use of condoms for at least 3 months after returning to minimize any chance of transmitting the virus to your partner or the baby.
  • If you develop a new neurologic condition after travelling to a Zika virus affected area, inform your health care provider.
Testing for Zika virus is currently being carried out at the B. C. Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Testing can be arranged through your doctor. Babies can be assessed to ensure that they are developing normally through fetal ultrasound scans, which can also be arranged through your doctor.

For more information on Zika virus, please visit the following sites:

SOURCE: Zika Virus ( )
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