NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Zika virus

There is an ongoing outbreak of Zika virus infections in South and Central America and the Caribbean with increasing evidence that infection in pregnancy may be associated with fetal microcephaly and other central nervous system abnormalities. Zika virus infection has also been linked with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Symptomatic Zika virus infection is typically mild and short-lived in most individuals, but particular attention is required for travel-associated risks in women who are pregnant or who are planning a pregnancy.


Key messages

  • Mosquito bite avoidance should be the priority for all travellers
  • Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to affected areas
  • Any pregnant woman recently returned from affected areas should seek medical advice.


Insect repellent advice

  • Insect repellent containing 50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) will repel mosquitoes for approximately 12 hours.
  • Repellents containing 50% DEET can be used by pregnant women, but higher concentrations should not be used.
  • When both sunscreen and DEET are required, DEET should be applied after the sunscreen. Sunscreen with a 30 to 50 SPF rating should be applied to compensate for DEET-induced reduction in SPF.
  • The use of DEET is not recommended for infants less than two months of age.


Further information