Acute Communicable
Disease Control

Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, #212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856

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Acute Communicable Disease Control
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Zika and Pregnancy

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends that pregnant women delay travel to an area with risk of Zika until after the baby is born.

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What should you do if you are pregnant and you travel to an area with risk of Zika?
Outbreaks of Zika are currently occurring in many countries and territories. Check the LOCATIONS before you travel. If you must travel to an area where Zika is spreading, talk to your doctor prior to your trip, closely follow steps to prevent mosquito bites, and practice safe sex.

During travel to an area with risk of Zika
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Take steps to prevent getting Zika during sex by using condoms from start to finish every time you have sex or by not having sex during your entire pregnancy.

After travel
  • Talk to your doctor, discuss your travel.
  • If you develop a fever with other Zika symptoms (rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, or muscle pain), see your doctor immediately and discuss your travel.
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after returning.
  • Take steps to prevent passing Zika through sex by using condoms from start to finish every time you have sex or by not having sex for 2 months for females and 3 months for males.

Zika testing for pregnant women
  • Pregnant women who are symptomatic should be tested for Zika if they have possible recent exposure to Zika. Pregnant women without symptoms with recent possible exposure are no longer recommended for routine testing, but should be considered for testing if they are at higher risk of possible exposure. Pregnant women without symptoms and live or frequently travel to an area with Zika risk should be tested.
  • Pregnant women also should be tested if an ultrasound shows fetal abnormalities that might be related to Zika infection.

Microcephaly and other birth defects
Zika virus infection during pregnancy increases the chances of birth defects. Zika virus infection is a cause of microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s brain and head are smaller than expected as compared to babies of the same sex and age. Please see Special Report: Newborn Microcephaly: How Often is it Diagnosed in LAC? for a five-year review of county hospitalizations with a microcephaly diagnosis.

Congenital Zika Syndrome
Congenital Zika syndrome is a unique pattern of birth defects found among fetuses and babies infected with Zika virus during pregnancy described by the following five features. Babies born with congenital Zika virus infection may have only one of these problems or show no symptoms at birth. However, these babies may later experience slowed head growth and develop postnatal microcephaly:
  • Severe microcephaly where the skull has partially collapsed
  • Decreased brain tissue with a specific pattern of brain damage
  • Damage (i.e., scarring, pigment changes) to the back of the eye
  • Joints with limited range of motion such as clubfoot
  • Too much muscle tone restricting body movement soon after birth

Future Pregnancies
Based on available evidence, Zika virus infection in a woman who is not pregnant would not pose a risk for birth defects in future pregnancies after the virus has cleared from her blood, in about 8-12 weeks. Once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be immune from a future Zika infection.

Additional information about Zika infection and pregnancy is available from the CDC.


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