Top tips to avoid Zika

 As we trade in our toques and snow boots for swimsuits and sandals, it's a smart idea to take a few minutes to ensure a happy and healthy vacation. With that in mind, here are four tips to protect you and your family against the Zika virus:

1. Know what causes it. The Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact and from an infected pregnant woman to her developing fetus.

2. Know your risk. Zika virus is found in many regions of the world, and there have been cases reported in Canada among travellers returning from countries with ongoing outbreaks. Although the overall risk is low for most Canadians, infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects or neurological disorders in a developing fetus. For this reason, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women and couples planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to countries or areas where the Zika virus is present.

3. Take extra precautions. Studies show that the Zika virus can live up to six months in semen. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy and you or your partner have recently visited a Zika-affected country or area, there are preventive actions you should take.

You are encouraged to use condoms correctly or avoid having sex for the duration of your pregnancy.

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that women wait at least two months after travel before trying. This will ensure that any possible Zika virus infection is gone from your body. As Zika virus has been found in the semen of some infected men for up to six months, men should always use condoms correctly, or avoid having sex during that time period.

4. Know how to prevent it. The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites. It's important to note that mosquitos carrying the Zika virus bite during daytime and evening hours, so when you're packing for your dream tropical vacation make sure to include insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Before you travel, check out the Government of Canada's travel health advisories and notifications for the latest information. Find more tips online at