Image of a mosquito

What is Zika Virus?

Zika is a virus (germ), spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, which can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red or pink eyes). Most people infected with Zika virus do not even get sick. However, Zika virus can sometimes be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth, which may cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other possible defects.

Am I At Risk for Zika Virus?

At this time, only people traveling to places with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks or engaging in sexual activity with someone who has traveled to these places are at risk for getting the infection. If you or your partner is planning on traveling, you should check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information about where Zika virus is occurring: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Women who are pregnant or couples that are planning to become pregnant within six months should not travel to areas where Zika virus is occurring. If you are pregnant, and you or your partner is planning on traveling, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information about where Zika virus is occurring and speak with your healthcare provider before making travel plans.

Preventing Zika Virus

There is no vaccine or specific treatment available for Zika virus infection. However, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from Zika virus infection, including:

  • If you are pregnant or part of a couple planning on becoming pregnant soon, do not travel to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission.
  • If you choose to travel, prevent mosquito exposure by:
    • Using insect repellents that are EPA registered according to the directions on the label;
    • Covering up exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants; and
    • Staying in places with screens and air-conditioning, or sleep under mosquito netting
  • In order to avoid sexual transmission of Zika virus with a male partner who has recently traveled to an area where Zika transmission is occurring, use condoms consistently and correctly during all sexual activity.

More Information for the Public

Information for Healthcare and Public Health Partners

Not all patients will meet the criteria for Zika virus testing. Please consult the Zika Clinical Advisory below for the most current testing guidelines, and contact the MDPH Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at 617-983-6800 with questions.

CDC Guidance for Healthcare Providers

Caring for Pregnant Women and those of Reproductive Age

Caring for Infants and Children

Preventing Sexual Transmission

Laboratory Testing


This information is provided by Epidemiology Program within the Department of Public Health.