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Zika Virus in Costa Rica

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
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What is the current situation?

Zika virus (or Zika) has been reported in Costa Rica. Public health officials have reported that mosquitoes in Costa Rica are infected with Zika and spreading it to people. The mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at altitudes above 6,500 feet because of environmental conditions. Although there is a risk of Zika in Costa Rica, travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this altitude are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito. The map shows areas of Costa Rica above and below 6,500 feet.

Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick or only have mild symptoms. However, infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, travelers should take steps to prevent getting Zika during travel. They should also take steps to prevent spreading it when they return home.

Interactive web map: Search for a place by name, or pan, zoom, and click on the map to display additional information.

Zika Virus in Pregnancy

A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Zika can spread through mosquito bites and sex. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant:
    • You should not travel to any area of Costa Rica below 6,500 feet (See map).
    • If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Costa Rica or any other area with risk of Zika, either use condoms or do not have sex for the rest of the pregnancy.
  • Travelers who have a pregnant partner:
    • Use condoms or do not have sex for the rest of the pregnancy. 
  • Travelers considering pregnancy:
    • Before you or your partner travel, talk to your health care provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
    • Wait before trying to conceive.
      • 6 months after you return (or from the start of symptoms) if you are a man or a couple traveling together
      • 2 months after you return (or from the start of symptoms) if you are a woman and your male partner does not travel

What can travelers do to prevent Zika?

  • Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
  • All travelers to areas with risk of Zika should (1) prevent mosquito bites and (2) use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel. They should continue to take these precautions after their trip to stop the spread of Zika to others back home. See below for more information.

Special Precautions for Specific Groups

CDC recommends special precautions for (1) pregnant women, (2) the partners of pregnant women, and (3) those considering pregnancy:

1. Pregnant women

  • Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
  • However, if you must travel:
    • Talk to your doctor or other health care provider before you travel.
    • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during travel and for 3 weeks after your return.
    • Strictly follow steps to prevent sexual transmission during your trip.
    • See your doctor after your return, even if you do not have symptoms.
    • Tell your doctor about possible Zika exposure at each prenatal care visit.
  • If your partner travels:
    • Use condoms every time you have sex – or do not have sex – for the rest of the pregnancy, even if your partner does not have symptoms or feel sick.

>> More Zika information for pregnant women

2. Travelers who have a pregnant partner

  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during travel and for 3 weeks after your return.
  • Use condoms every time you have sex, or do not have sex, for the rest of the pregnancy, even if you do not have symptoms or feel sick.  

>> More information about protecting against Zika during pregnancy

3. Travelers considering pregnancy

  • Talk to your health care provider about your pregnancy plans and possible Zika risk before travel.
  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during travel and for 3 weeks after your return.
  • If you’re a couple traveling together or a man (traveling without your partner): Wait at least 6 months after you return (or from the start of symptoms, if you develop symptoms) before trying to conceive. During that time, use condoms or do not have sex to prevent passing Zika to your partner.
  • If you’re a woman (and your male partner does not travel): Wait at least 2 months after you return (or from the start of symptoms, if you develop symptoms) before trying to conceive. During that time, use condoms or do not have sex to prevent passing Zika to your partner.

Men are advised to wait longer because Zika can stay in semen longer than in other body fluids and can be transmitted to partners during that time.

>> More Zika information for those considering pregnancy

Additional Resources

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