Zika Virus Alert

The Tennessee Department of Health is alerting people traveling to countries with ongoing Zika virus transmission to protect themselves during travel and when returning to Tennessee.

In a letter to providers on March 22, 2017, the department reported that many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are continuing to experience outbreaks of Zika virus disease, and local transmission continues in Miami, Florida and Brownsville, Texas. Tennessee has had 64 cases, all due to travel to other countries.

Zika virus is spread primarily through bites from infected mosquitoes. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease and no specific medicine to treat it.

In past outbreaks, most people have not gotten sick, so people may not even know they are infected. Based on current knowledge, the greatest risk for complications from Zika is to a pregnant woman’s fetus. If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, she can pass the virus to her fetus.

Zika has been linked to cases of microcephaly, a serious birth defect, and is a sign that the baby is born with a smaller brain, which can result in medical problems and impaired development.

To protect the pregnancy, couples can:

  • Check CDC's Zika fact page and travel guidance; pregnant women should avoid travel to any area with Zika.
  • Talk to her doctor or other healthcare provider first, if she must travel to an area with Zika.
  • Prevent mosquito bites, including covering up arms and legs and using EPA-registered insect repellent, which is safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Use latex condoms, the right way, every time or choose not to have any type of sex if the male partner has been in an area with Zika during the pregnancy.

Downloadable Resources