Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful.

However, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there’s evidence it causes birth defects – in particular, abnormally small heads (microcephaly).

Zika does not naturally occur in the UK. Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific Islands, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and parts of south and southeast Asia.

If you plan to travel to an affected area, seek travel health advice before your trip. Travel advice is tailored to you and based on the level of risk (high, moderate or low) for the country you’re travelling to.

If you are trying to get pregnant, discuss your travel plans with your GP, practice nurse or travel clinic. You should take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

It is recommended that you avoid becoming pregnant while travelling to an area with high or moderate risk of Zika virus transmission, and for eight weeks after you return home. It is also recommended that you take folic acid supplements for 28 days before trying to get pregnant.

If you have experienced Zika symptoms within two weeks of returning home, it is recommended that you wait eight weeks after full recovery before you try to get pregnant.

If your male partner has travelled to an area with high or moderate risk of Zika virus transmission, you should use effective contraception to prevent pregnancy and use condoms during sex to reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

These measures should be taken during travel and for six months:

  • after start of symptoms (if he does experience Zika symptoms or a Zika virus infection has been confirmed by a doctor)
  • following his return home (if he has no Zika symptoms)

Ebola virus disease is a serious illness that originated in Africa, where a large outbreak occurred in 2014-15. In June 2016, the outbreak was officially declared over.

The 2014-15 outbreak of Ebola mainly affected three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Some cases also occurred in parts of central Africa.

There’s still a small chance occasional cases of Ebola may occur in Africa as the virus is present in several countries there.

It is sensible to defer the period for gamete donation from people who have been in an area infected with EBOV, from six month to 2 years.

Before embarking upon any fertility treatment with us, we will need to know if you or your partner has recently returned from any of the countries where an outbreak is ongoing.

Further information

Public Health England: Zika virus (ZIKV): clinical and travel guidance: gov.uk/government/collections/zika-virus-zikv-clinical-and-travel-guidance

1. HFEA clinic focus April 2017
2. Zika Virus- NHS. UK
3. Ebola Virus disease – NHS.UK
Ref: 14-18-171
Review: 03/20