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Rapid Risk Assessment - Zika virus epidemic in the Americas: potential association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (Third update, 23 February 2016)

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Main conclusions and options for response

Considering the continued rapid spread of Zika virus in the Americas and Caribbean, the growing evidence of an association between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and congenital central nervous system malformations, the association between Zika virus infection and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), and the risk of establishment of local vector-borne transmission in Europe during the 2016 summer season, EU/EEA Member States are recommended to consider the following mitigation measures:

  • Travellers visiting countries where there is active transmission of Zika virus should be made aware of the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus infection. A list of countries and territories with documented autochthonous transmission during the past two months is available on the ECDC website.

  • Travellers visiting these countries should take measures to prevent mosquito bites indoors and outdoors, especially from sunrise to sunset when Aedes mosquito vectors are the most active.

  • Use mosquito repellent in accordance with the instructions indicated on the product label. DEETbased repellent is not recommended for children under two months of age but pregnant women can use it.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.

  • Sleep or rest in screened or air-conditioned rooms, or under mosquito nets, even when resting during the day.

  • Pregnant women and women who are planning to become pregnant should consider postponing nonessential travel to affected areas until after delivery. If travel to affected areas cannot be avoided, pregnant women should follow strict personal preventive measures and consult their healthcare providers before departure and upon return.

  • Travellers with immune disorders or severe chronic illnesses should consult their doctor or seek advice from a travel clinic before travelling, particularly on effective prevention measures.

  • There is evidence that Zika virus can be transmitted sexually through semen, and there are indications that the Zika viral RNA can be present in semen for at least two months after a man has recovered from a Zika virus infection. Travellers to Zika-affected areas should be advised that using condoms could reduce the risk of sexual transmission from an infected man to another person.

  • Travellers showing symptoms compatible with Zika virus disease within three weeks of return from an affected area are advised to contact their healthcare provider and mention their recent travel.

  • Pregnant women who have travelled in areas with Zika virus transmission should mention their travel during antenatal visits in order to be assessed and monitored.