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Zika 101

What is Zika and how does it spread?

Zika is a mosquito-borne infection caused by the Zika virus that can be spread in one of the following ways:


The greatest risk from Zika is to a pregnant woman's baby. If a pregnant woman gets Zika, either by being bitten by an infected mosquito or by having unprotected sex, she can pass the virus to her developing baby, which can cause certain birth defects. Currently, there is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika. 

Learn more about Zika prevention and transmission
Learn more about mosquito bite prevention (PDF)
Learn more about Zika and sex (PDF)

Zika Symptoms

Most people with Zika don't get sick, and they may not even know they have it. Those who do get symptoms may have fever, rash, joint pain and/or red eyes.    

Once infected with Zika, you are likely to be protected from future infections.

If you have recently been to an area with Zika and have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, especially if you are pregnant.

Learn more about areas with Zika
Learn more about Zika symptoms


How Californians Can Protect Themselves

Latino FamilyThere have been no reported cases of local transmission of Zika in California. It is possible for some types of mosquitoes in California to carry the Zika virus and infect people here (known as "local transmission"), but the risk of this happening is very low. Zika infections in California have mainly been reported in people who were infected while traveling in areas outside of California with ongoing Zika transmission.

Zika continues to be a problem in many parts of the world. You are at risk of getting Zika if you visit areas with Zika and are bitten by mosquitoes there or have unprotected sex with someone who is infected with Zika.  

If you are pregnant, do not go to areas where there is an outbreak of Zika. Pregnant women and couples planning pregnancy should talk to their doctor before planning travel to any area where Zika is a concern (including Mexico). People who travel or live in areas with Zika should protect themselves in the following ways:


Prevent Mosquito Bites
  • Wear EPA-registered insect repellent, which is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay/sleep in screened-in and air-conditioned rooms while staying in areas with Zika.


Prevent Sexual Transmission
  • Practice safer sex by using condoms (male or female) and dental dams every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex, OR do not have sex.
  • Wait at least 3 months (for men) or at least 2 months (for women) before planning pregnancy or having unprotected sex.
  • Delay pregnancy by using a long-acting, effective birth control method, like an IUD or implant, in combination with condoms.


Prevent Mosquitoes From Breeding and Biting Around Your Home
  • Dump all standing water – even containers as small as a bottle cap.
  • Scrub flowerpots and animal water dishes.
  • Call your local vector control agency if you notice many mosquitoes around your home.


Learn how you can help prevent the spread of Zika in California. Visit our Don't Bring Zika Home web page for more information you can download and share with others.

Learn more about areas with Zika 
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