There are concerns that pregnant women who become infected with Zika virus can transmit the disease to their unborn babies, with potentially serious consequences. Reports from several countries, most notably Brazil, demonstrate an increase in severe foetal birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes in babies whose mothers were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.
Additional international research is necessary and ongoing to determine the link between Zika virus and foetal damage.
Until more is known, the Ministry of Health recommends that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near term consider delaying travel to areas with Zika virus present. If travelling in Zika infected areas, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider and take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
- Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
- If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
- Use bed nets as necessary
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
If you are pregnant and develop a rash, red eyes, fever, or joint pain within 14 days of travel to a Zika virus infected country, please consult your health care provider and let them know your travel history.