Zika is spread mainly through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes are not found in Canada.
The virus can be spread from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Transmission can also occur through blood transfusion. However, persons in Canada will not be allowed to donate blood for 21 days after returning from travel to a risk area. There are reports of Zika virus being sexually transmitted by men to their sex partners.
Approximately 80 per cent of people with Zika virus infection may not be aware that they have been infected. If symptoms occur, these may include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
Who is at risk
Anyone who lives in or travels to areas where Zika virus is found and has not already been infected can get it from mosquito bites. The virus is rapidly spreading in many countries in the Americas where the Aedes mosquito is present. There have also been outbreaks in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Because there is a link to birth defects, such as microcephaly, in babies, becoming infected with Zika is of particular concern to women who are pregnant, those who are planning to become pregnant and their sexual partners.
The recommendations for testing may change as the situation evolves.
Testing may be considered for individuals with a history of travel to an area where Zika is found AND one or both of the following criteria:
- Is pregnant;
- Presents with a clinical illness compatible with Zika virus infection.
Countries and Territories with Zika Virus Transmission
Information for Travellers
Refer to Public Health Agency of Canada’s website for various travel health fact sheets.
Insect bite precautions are explained in detail in the Travel Health and Safety - Insect Bite Prevention section on Government of Canada's website.
For more information see Zika virus fact sheet.
If you become ill after having travelled and see your health care provider, remember to tell them that you have travelled.
See the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Travel Health Notices
Resources for Health Care Providers
Remember to ask your patients about their travel history.
Prevention, Treatment, Diagnosis and Laboratory Testing
Currently all laboratory specimens collected in Saskatchewan for testing of Zika virus infection will be sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg.
All laboratory specimens must be accompanied with the necessary information on the accompanying viral zoonoses requisition form which can be downloaded from the NML’s Guide to Services