The prevention of Zika virus infection as recommended by the CDC involves the following steps:
1. Prevent mosquito bites: Since Zika virus is spread to individuals mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito, the best way to prevent Zika infection is to protect against mosquito bites. Although mosquitoes can bite at night, mosquitoes that spread Zika virus tend to bite mostly during the day. Typically, local governments use mosquito control programs that employ a combination of methods to prevent and control mosquitoes that spread viruses, like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. These programs take advantage of the mosquito biology, its life cycle, and the way it spreads the viruses. Removing places where mosquitoes lay eggs is an important step. Usually, mosquitoes lay eggs near water because young mosquitoes need water to survive. Both professionals and the general public can help by removing standing water. In addition, the use of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered larvicides (according to label instructions) can serve to control the young mosquito population. Controlling young mosquitoes before they become adults can minimize widespread use of insecticides that kill adult mosquitoes.
The CDC has the following links for mosquito prevention and control:
2. Plan for travel: When traveling, check on the geographical areas, countries and territories where Zika virus outbreaks are occurring. Check with the CDC on active Zika virus outbreaks, make travel plans before and after a trip, and protect against sexual transmission of Zika by accessing updated CDC travel links information:
3. Protection During Sex: It is known that the Zika virus can be transmitted through sex with an individual who carries the Zika virus. Currently, there are studies to determine the length of time that the Zika virus may remain in the semen and vaginal fluids of individuals who have Zika, and how long it can be passed to sex partners. At present, it is known that Zika can remain in semen longer than in other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood. Abstinence from sex can eliminate the risk of obtaining Zika virus and the use of condoms during sex can reduce the risk. The CDC has the following link for detailed information on protection during sex:
In addition, other scientific approaches are underway in an attempt to prevent the spread of the Zika virus by mosquitoes. For example, a unique approach to controlling mosquito transmission of the virus involves decreasing the lifespan of A. aegypti through release of mosquitoes infected with a rickettsial symbiont, Wolbachia, which are bacteria that spread through natural populations and suppress viral transmission by interfering with replication in the mosquito. Another novel approach is through engineering male mosquitoes genetically so that following mating, the progeny larvae die before emerging as adults.
To minimize and prevent the transmission of the Zika virus through blood transfusions, the U.S. FDA issued in August 2016 a revised guidance recommending universal testing of donated whole blood and blood components for the Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories. The FDA believes that this recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will serve to ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who may need a transfusion.