Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful.
However, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as it’s been linked to birth defects – in particular, abnormally small heads (microcephaly).
Zika does not naturally occur in the UK. Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region, and the virus has now spread to South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Experts expect the Zika virus to spread to all countries in the Americas (including the Caribbean), with the exception of Chile and Canada.
People travelling to affected areas should seek travel health advice before their trip.
Advice for women trying to get pregnant
If you are trying to get pregnant, discuss your travel plans with your GP, practice nurse or travel clinic. You should take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. It is recommended that you avoid becoming pregnant while travelling to an area with active Zika virus transmission, and for 8 weeks after you return home. It is also recommended that you take folic acid supplements for 28 days before trying to get pregnant.
If you have experienced Zika symptoms within 2 weeks of returning home, it is recommended that you wait at least 8 weeks after full recovery before you try to get pregnant.
If your partner has travelled to an area with active Zika virus transmission, you should use effective contraception to prevent pregnancy and condoms to reduce the risk of sexual transmission. These measures should be taken during travel and for 6 months after his return home, even if he has no Zika symptoms. If he does experience Zika symptoms or a Zika virus infection has been confirmed by a doctor, then the 6 month period should commence upon full recovery.
Information taken from: NHS website