Public Health England (PHE) is aware that the United States’ Centers for Disease Control have updated their recommendations for travellers on the avoidance of sexual transmission of Zika virus infection. PHE is in the process of reviewing its own recommendations and will update them soon. Until then, the existing guidance available on the GOV.UK Zika Pages and on the National Travel Health Network and Centre Country information pages remains valid for UK travellers.
Zika is a mosquito-borne infection caused by Zika virus, a member of the genus flavivirus and family Flaviviridae. Zika virus was first isolated from a monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947.
Since 2015, an outbreak of Zika virus infection has been occurring in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) and some parts of Asia and Africa.
WHO, in conjunction with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, developed a revised Zika country classification scheme which was published in March 2017. PHE and NaTHNaC have reviewed and updated their Zika travel and sexual transmission advice as a result and have made changes to the risk ratings in some countries.
Travellers should use the Country Information Pages on the NaTHNaC website for up to date and detailed advice for those travelling to countries or areas affected by Zika virus. The CIP are also linked to each individual country from the A to Z country list.
Travel associated risks of Zika have been classified into 3 categories based on the current and potential epidemiological situation in order to ensure that travel advice is appropriate and proportionate.
Guidance for primary care and clinicians has been jointly developed by PHE, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives, and Health Protection Scotland.
Zika virus infection may present an increased risk for certain groups of the population, particularly pregnant women. Specific travel advice for women planning pregnancy or who are currently pregnant is available.
If a person acquires Zika abroad and becomes ill on their return to the UK, any public health risk to the wider population is negligible, as the mosquito that transmits the virus is not found in the UK.