Zika in the Americas - summary for 2016

The Pan American Health Organization (Regional Office of the World Health Organization) has reported that 48 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed local transmission of Zika virus by local mosquitoes. No new countries have been affected since the last update in mid-December. The affected countries include:

Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Aruba; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bolivia (Plurinational
State of); Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba; Brazil; the British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa
Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; the Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Grenada;
Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua;
Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Puerto Rico; Saint Barthélemy; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin; Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; the
United States of America; the United States Virgin Islands; and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

In addition, five countries in the Americas have reported sexually transmitted Zika cases. These countries include Argentina, Canada, Chile, Peru, and the United States of America.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Zika Fever.

Advice For Travellers

The risk of exposure to this virus may be high. The risk of exposure for the general traveller in any particular location is difficult to estimate since so many infected people have no symptoms and are not recorded officially. There may be many infected people in the community.

The absence of reports from other countries does not mean there is no transmission of Zika virus there.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for this infection. Travellers can minimize the risk of exposure by taking all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

There is strong scientific evidence that this virus is the cause of microcephaly (small brain) and other neurological abnormalities in newborn infants. The World Health Organization advises that pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks. Pregnant women whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should ensure safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy,

Men or women who have traveled to an area with epidemic Zika may become infected without symptoms. Based on new evidence, the recommended length of time for safer sex practices for asymptomatic males returning from areas with active Zika virus transmission was extended from 8 weeks to 6 months. This is the same length of time as is recommended for symptomatic men. This recommendation now also applies to women, whether or not they have had symptoms. If the man’s partner is pregnant, the couple should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy. It is unknown how long after infection women can transmit the virus to their partners.