As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, my job is to protect our nation's health. As a husband and father, my family's health and safety is always foremost on my mind. Zika virus, and the birth defects it can cause, is a new and scary threat -- one that can have a significant impact on families.
Although scientists and doctors at CDC and elsewhere are still learning about Zika, we know some important things about the virus and how it spreads. We've also learned that Zika infection is of greatest concern for pregnant women because it can cause serious birth defects, such as microcephaly. Any man returning from an area with Zika needs to take two important steps to protect his partner, his children, and his community.
First, protect your partner's pregnancy. Although Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes, a man with Zika can pass it to his sexual partner. If your partner is pregnant, you can help protect her health and the health of the fetus by using condoms every time you have sex. If you and your partner are considering pregnancy, we recommend waiting at least 2 months after you get back from a Zika-affected area if you don't have symptoms, and at least 6 months if you do have symptoms.
Second, if you live in an area with mosquitoes that can spread Zika, protect your family and community. After returning from an area with Zika, prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so you do not spread Zika to local mosquitoes. These mosquitoes could, in turn, spread the virus to your family, friends, and other nearby people. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using EPA-registered insect repellent are important to prevent bites. Keep the number of mosquitoes around your home down by getting rid of any standing water where mosquitoes can breed. And keep mosquitoes outside by using window and door screens, and air conditioning if they're available.
CDC works 24/7 to protect Americans. You can do your part to protect your family and community.