Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). Based on what we know now, the mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are not found in Vermont.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms that may last for several days up to a week. Once a person has been infected with Zika virus, they are likely protected from future infections. 

While Zika is generally a mild illness in most adults, Zika virus has caused microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain, and other serious complication in babies of mothers who had the virus while pregnant. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who are pregnant, or who may become pregnant, talk to a health care provider about potential risks before travelling to areas where Zika transmission has occurred. All travelers to an area with current or past Zika transmission should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during and after travel.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. See the information and guidance below for what you need to know. If you have concerns or questions about your health and Zika virus, contact your health care provider.

As of November 2019, no countries or U.S. territories are reporting an outbreak of Zika, however, dengue virus is currently causing large outbreaks in many areas of the world.

Travelers to Areas with Zika

Travelers who go to areas with outbreaks of Zika can be infected with Zika virus and should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin. Look for products containing DEET, picardin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or para-menthane-diol (PMD).

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.

  • Use permethrin-treated gear and clothing.

  • Stay in air conditioned or screened-in rooms.

  • Because Zika virus is spread through sex and it can stay in the body for months after infection, men and women should use condoms during and after travel.

Some travelers become infected while traveling but do not get sick until they return home. Be aware of any illness or symptoms during your trip or after you return home. See your health care provider if you get sick and tell where you have traveled and when you were there. Your doctor may order blood or urine tests to look for Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue or chikungunya.

Protect your sex partners after travel. Use condoms for at least three months, or at least two months if only a female partner traveled. If your partner is pregnant, use condoms throughout pregnancy or do not have sex.

If you have more questions about Zika virus, talk with your health care provider.

Information for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should talk to a health care provider about potential risks before travelling to areas where Zika may be spread by mosquitoes. If pregnant women and their partners decide to travel, they should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or other barriers to prevent infection every time they have sex during pregnancy.

Pregnant women with possible Zika exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika should be tested for Zika.

Information for Health Care Professionals
Clinical Guidance

Up-to-date clinical guidance and resources for health care professionals are available on the CDC website.

Reporting Suspect Cases

Health care professionals should contact the Vermont Department of Health Epidemiology Program by calling 800-640-4374 or 802-863-7240 to report a suspect case.

Testing Recommended
  • Symptomatic pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure

  • Symptomatic pregnant women with recent travel to areas with active dengue transmission and a risk of Zika

  • Pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure who have a fetus with prenatal ultrasound findings consistent with congenital Zika virus infection

Testing Possibly Recommended
  • Testing asymptomatic pregnant women with recent possible exposure to Zika virus is not routinely recommended, but may be considered by providers on a case-by-case basis.

Testing Not Recommended
  • For symptomatic non-pregnant patients, refer to testing guidance for dengue. Zika testing is not currently recommended for this group.

  • Non-pregnant asymptomatic individuals

  • Preconception screening

Testing for Zika is no longer available at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory. Testing is available through other commercial laboratories.

All patients suspected of having Zika should be counseled on protective steps for preventing Zika transmission through sex. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly from start to finish, every time during sex. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and the sharing of sex toys.

Medicine such as acetaminophen may be taken to reduce fever and pain, but patients should not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.

For questions about Zika virus in Vermont, call the Vermont Department of Health Epidemiology Program at 800-640-4374 or 802-863-7240.

Additional Resources

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