Health officials predict the Zika virus will spread to the U.S. this summer, and the map below shows the states most at risk for an outbreak. (Red indicates high risk, orange moderate risk, and yellow low risk.)
If you spend any time watching CNN, this news is enough to make you invest in a hazmat suit. And yes, the possible linkage to microcephaly (a condition that causes babies’ heads to be smaller than normal and is associated with developmental problems) is frightening. But the CDC says that unless you or your partner are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there’s no need to be on high alert.
Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you protect yourself from the virus (or simply stop freaking out!):
If you’re pregnant: The CDC recommends canceling or postponing trips to any countries with a Zika outbreak. Pregnant women aren’t more likely to contract the virus, but as we’ve already mentioned, there is a possible link between Zika and birth defects. If a Zika outbreak occurs where you live, consult your doctor and limit your chances of being bitten by a mosquito (wear long sleeves and pants, use an EPA-registered insect repellent, and stay in places with screens or air conditioning).
If you’re tryingto get pregnant: Talk to your doctor before traveling to countries impacted by the Zika virus. If you aren’t planning on getting pregnant for many months, traveling to a country with Zika is less of a concern. Even if you become infected, the CDC says it shouldn’t pose a risk for future pregnancies once the virus clears the blood.
If you’re traveling to an area with a Zika outbreak: Take special care to avoid mosquito bites and use condoms for oral, anal, or vaginal sex, as Zika may be transmitted through semen.
If you get infected: You may not even notice. Most people don’t show any signs of the virus—only one in five who contract Zika have symptoms such as fever, joint pain, pinkeye, or a rash, which can show up anywhere from two to 12 days after the bite. Long story short: If you or your partner aren’t pregnant or trying to get pregnant anytime soon, you’re probably in the clear.