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Precautions against Zika for pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women who travel

As many Canadians are now dreaming of beach holidays, The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada urges women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, to follow Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) guidelines and consider avoiding or delaying travel to areas with reported mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The number of confirmed Zika cases in Canada has risen to 476 from people who contracted the virus after travelling or through sexual contact, including 27 pregnant women. Zika is transmitted by mosquitos in a number of countries, including Mexico, much of Central and South America, the Caribbean and parts of Florida and Texas. Zika infections in pregnant women can sometimes lead to infections in the baby as well, and can cause severe birth defects.

If travel cannot be avoided or postponed, women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant are advised to: 

  • Follow strict mosquito bite protection;
  • Delay conception for at least two months after travel to ensure the virus has cleared their body;
  • Male partners should use condoms for six months post travel or avoid having sex with their partner for the duration of the pregnancy.

Zika symptoms may include fever, headaches, pink eye, skin rashes, and joint and muscle aches. The illness is usually quite mild and lasts only a few days. Many people who contract Zika have no symptoms at all. There is presently no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection,