Zika Virus

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is alerting the public of the potential to contract Zika virus while traveling abroad. Zika virus is a virus spread to people through Aedes mosquito bites, similar to dengue fever or West Nile virus. Two residents of Illinois have tested positive for the Zika virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both individuals had traveled in late December to a country where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.


The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease that requires treatment at a hospital is uncommon.


 “There is virtually no risk to Illinois residents since you cannot contract Zika virus from another person, but only through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “But since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories.”

Center for Disease Control Travel Alert

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert (Level 2- Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, including:
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Pregnancy & Zika

This alert follows reports in Brazil of a birth defect called microcephaly, or an unusually small head, and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

Read CDC Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak.

Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women, women trying to become pregnant, or women who are thinking about becoming pregnant and must travel to one of these areas should talk with their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.


There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.