Zika Virus Outbreak

Zika Virus Guidelines Urge Couples to Wait Before Pregnancy

Couples who have been exposed to the Zika virus may need to wait up to six months before trying to conceive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

A woman diagnosed with Zika should wait at least two months from the time of her first symptoms before trying to become pregnant, according to the new guidelines. For men diagnosed with Zika, or who have symptoms, the guidelines recommend no sex or condom use for at least 6 months. This longer time period for men reflects an effort to minimize risk after the recent discovery that Zika virus can be detected in semen for at least 2 months.

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"Unfortunately, there is a lot we don't know," Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, CDC Zika Virus Response Team. "These recommendations are the best attempt to predict."

Previous Zika guidelines have focused on protecting women who were already pregnant.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus, spread by female Aedes mosquitos. It has been linked to serious birth defects, especially microcephaly, which results from a damaged brain that stops developing in the womb.

Related: Zika Has Been in Brazil Longer than Anyone Thought

Zika is spreading fast across the Americas and the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is of particular concern for the United States because the approaching rainy season will lead to increase mosquito activity. Zika cases are expected to rise dramatically this summer due, with the CDC estimating that in five Puerto Ricans will become infected. For a list of countries affected by Zika, go to CDC Travel Alerts