Guidance

Zika virus: travel advice

Travel advice reflecting country specific Zika risk ratings.

Latest update

As of 2 August 2017, Public Health England (PHE) no longer provides detailed travel health advice in relation to Zika virus.

Use the Country Information Pages (CIPs) on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website for up to date and detailed advice for those travelling to countries or areas affected by Zika virus. The CIPs are also linked to each individual country from the A to Z country list.

Particular attention is required for women who are pregnant or who are considering a pregnancy because of the risk to the developing fetus associated with Zika virus infection in pregnancy. UK travel health advice in relation to Zika virus is therefore primarily focussed on pregnant women and their partners and couples planning pregnancy.

Travel advice

There is currently no vaccine or drug to prevent Zika virus infection. The majority of Zika virus cases are acquired via mosquito bite, although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection can occur. The overall risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus is, however, considered to be low. Prevention of Zika relies primarily on avoidance of mosquito bites.

Travellers to countries or areas with risk for Zika virus transmission should ideally seek travel health advice from their GP, practice nurse or a travel clinic at least 4 to 6 weeks before they travel. Even if time is short it is still not too late to get travel advice. Zika risk ratings for destinations are available.

Pregnancy and travel

Zika virus infection in women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant can result in serious birth defects. Although the probability of a fetus developing complications resulting from Zika infection is low, the impact of these complications, should they occur, are very serious. Travel advisories are therefore focussed on pregnant women, their partners and couples planning pregnancy.

Before booking travel, pregnant women and couples considering pregnancy within 3 months following travel should check the Zika risk for their destination (see country A to Z and consider any travel advisories (see table).

Travel advisories for pregnant women and couples planning pregnancy

Country risk rating Pregnant women Couples considering pregnancy
Risk Specific recommendations for pregnant women considering travel to affected countries or areas can be found in the ‘other risks’ section of the NaTHNaC country information pages Couples should follow guidance on prevention of sexual transmission of Zika and avoid conception while travelling and for 3 months on return
Very low risk No specific travel advisory No specific travel advisory

Further details including specific recommendations on prevention of sexual transmission are available on individual country pages on the NaTHNaC website (also accessed via the country A to Z).

Preventing infection by mosquito bites

Travellers should use mosquito bite avoidance measures if they are travelling in countries or areas below or around 2,000 metres (m). All travellers should take insect bite avoidance measures during daytime and night time hours to reduce the risk of infection with Zika and other mosquito borne diseases.

A good repellent containing N, N-diethylmetatoluamide (DEET) should be used on exposed skin, together with light cover-up clothing. If sunscreen is needed, repellent should be applied after sunscreen. Sunscreen should be 30 SPF or above to compensate for DEET- induced reduction in SPF.

Read the mosquito bite avoidance for travellers leaflet.

Further information

Information for health professionals on factors to consider when assessing the risk of infection with Zika is available from NaTHNaC.

Zika virus risk rating for countries or areas

Published 25 July 2016
Last updated 27 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated prevention of sexual transmission guidance: if a male partner has travelled, couples should wait 3 months (rather than the original 6 months) to conceive. Updated the terminology used to describe the risk for Zika virus transmission in countries, now classified as either 'risk' or 'very low risk.'
  2. Updated to reflect changes in travel and sexual transmission advice and revised Zika virus risk ratings.
  3. Addition of a statement pending revision to country classifications
  4. Further clarification of travel advice for all travellers to high and moderate risk areas.
  5. First published.