Protecting Yourself and Your Family from the Zika Virus

Zika is primarily transmitted to people through mosquito bites. Zika can also be transmitted by a pregnant woman can spread Zika to her fetus during pregnancy, through sex, and possibly through blood transfusion.

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.

Whether staying at home or traveling this summer, protect yourself from getting the Zika virus by preventing mosquito bites.

Ways to prevent mosquito bites

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (para-menthane-diol)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use screens on windows and doors (Learn more about how to control mosquitoes at home).
  • Empty containers that collect water or notify the appropriate authorities.

A mother is in the process of correctly applying mosquito repellant spray to her daughter’s right forearm.

Learn more ways to prevent mosquito bites, including special considerations for protecting young children. If you’re returning from an area with Zika, help keep it from spreading. Protect others and take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks after you get back.

Other ways to protect yourself

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed