10 Jun 2016

Update to advice on the prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus

Male travellers with no Zika symptoms now advised to use condoms for 8 weeks following travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission to prevent sexual transmission Update to advice on the prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus

Our advice on preventing sexual transmission in ZIKV has been updated. A small number of cases of sexual transmission of Zika virus have been reported (mostly male to female).

There is only one published report of transmission by a man who had travelled to an area with active Zika virus transmission but never experienced Zika symptoms. Transmission of Zika virus from a female to a male sexual partner, and from a male to a male sexual partner has also been reported but these appear to be very rare events.

The risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus is considered to be low, but the number of reports is increasing. Condom use is recommended for all travellers whist visiting an area with active Zika virus transmission and for the following time period:

  • If a man has clinical illness compatible with Zika virus infection, condom use should commence at the onset of the illness and continue for 6 months.
  • If a man has travelled to an area with active Zika virus transmission but does not experience symptoms, condom use is now advised for 8 weeks after leaving the area.

This is an increase from the previously recommended 4 weeks of condom use (for those with no symptoms), and is consistent with updated guidance from the World Health Organization and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. This update follows a recent report sexual transmission from an individual without Zika symptoms, that is believed to have occurred between 21 and 36 days after leaving an area with active Zika virus transmission.

Further information on prevention of infection by sexual transmission is available from Public Health England.

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