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About Zika Virus

If you do plan to travel, protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites is the best form of prevention against Zika.

Zika can also be transmitted by partners during sex.

Take the following precautions during travel or after returning from travel.

For more information specific to travels, visit Wisconsin traveler information.

A mosquito on a skin.

Zika virus is primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which survives in warmer climates, and has not been found in Wisconsin or any neighboring states. Another mosquito that is capable of transmitting Zika is Aedes albopictus, which has been detected in the Midwest, including Wisconsin.

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but can also be transmitted through sexual interaction or from mother to child.

The mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus live in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States.

From mother to child

Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and the virus may have negative effects on the baby before or after birth. While there is no active local transmission of Zika in Wisconsin, the disease can still affect residents who may contract it through travel to an area with Zika or sexual contact with a partner who has traveled to an area with Zika.

Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, especially while pregnant: fever, rash, joint pain, and/or red eyes. Zika infection during pregnancy can contribute to the following:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Increased risk of birth defects including microcephaly and other brain defects, vision and hearing problems, and impaired development.

If you do plan to travel to areas where Zika-transmitting mosquitoes are found, visit Zika virus traveler information.

The Department of Health Services has guidance on how to prevent mosquito exposure in Wisconsin.

Sexual transmission

Zika can be passed from a person with Zika to his or her partners during sex.* It can be passed even if one of the partners does not have symptoms. It can be passed from a person with Zika before their symptoms start, while they have symptoms, and after their symptoms end. Though not well documented, the virus may also be passed by a person who carries the virus but never develops symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommendations for how long to use condoms or not have sex after having traveled to an area with past or current Zika.

  If you were diagnosed with Zika, OR if you traveled to an area with a risk of Zika
If you are pregnant Pregnant women should not travel to areas with a current Zika outbreak. Talk to your health care provider if you decide to travel to an area with a risk of Zika.
If your partner is pregnant Use condoms correctly every time you have vaginal, anal, oral sex, or share sex toys, or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy.
If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy Discuss your plans for pregnancy with a health care provider to determine your risk and the options available.
If you or your partner are not pregnant and are not planning a pregnancy
  • Men: consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 3 months after symptoms begin.
  • Women: consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after symptoms begin.

* Sex as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes vaginal, anal, oral sex, or the sharing of sex toys.

Mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon, and La Crosse encephalitis, do occur in the state. Avoiding mosquito exposure is the most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.

Protect yourself from mosquitoes when traveling to warmer areas using these tips:

  • Use effective mosquito repellent and apply according to the label instructions.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with an insecticide (e.g., permethrin) or repellent (e.g., DEET) will give extra protection. Do not use permethrin directly on skin. If traveling to a remote area, use bed nets when sleeping.
  • The mosquitoes that can spread Zika virus primarily bite during the day, and prefer to bite indoors. Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when spending time indoors and outdoors, and both during the day and at night.

See your doctor or other health care provider if you have the symptoms described below and have visited an area with a risk of Zika. This is especially important if you are pregnant.

Be sure to tell your doctor or other health care provider where you traveled.

If you traveled to an area with a risk of Zika, be aware of any potential symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain) of the virus and consult your doctor.

For women 

Health care providers recommend that women wait at least eight weeks after traveling before trying to get pregnant. To help prevent Zika virus transmission, women should use condoms or abstain from sex during this time period.

For men 

Health care providers recommend that men should wait at least three months after traveling before trying to conceive with their partner. Men should also correctly and consistently use condoms for vaginal, anal, and oral (fellatio) sex or abstain from sex for three months to help prevent Zika virus transmission

Symptoms to watch for after returning from areas with a risk of Zika

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes
How long symptoms last

Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Symptoms of Zika are similar to other viruses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.

See your doctor or other health care provider if you have recently traveled to an area with Zika. Your doctor or other health care provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.

Last revised September 27, 2022