CDC Alert Level 2 – Zika Virus in Central America

Updated: 04/19/2016

Alert – Level 2, Practice Enhances Precautions

What is the current situation?

In November 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) was reported in Central America. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Since then, the following Central American countries have reported ongoing transmission of Zika:

Because Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Central America protect themselves from mosquito bites. Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so travelers are also encouraged to use condoms.

Most people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week. Zika may also be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.

Specific areas with Zika are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. As more information becomes available, the CDC travel notices will be updated.

Zika Virus in Pregnancy

Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection is linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant:
    • Should not travel to areas with Zika.
    • If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
    • If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant:
    • Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
    • You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
    • Men who have traveled to an area with Zika and have a pregnant partner should use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.