CDC today announced updates to its interim guidance for pre-pregnancy counseling and prevention of sexual transmission of Zika based on ongoing assessment of available data, primarily extending the timeframe for men with possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms to wait before attempting pregnancy with their partner and extending the time for use of condoms by these men to protect against sexual transmission of Zika virus infection. The updated interim guidance includes the following new recommendations:
· Women and men who are planning to become pregnant in the near future should consider avoiding nonessential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.
· The amount of time to wait to attempt conception for couples in which the man has had possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms has increased from at least 8 weeks (previous guidance) to at least 6 months after last possible exposure (updated guidance).
· The amount of time to use a condom to protect against transmission of Zika virus infection or not have sex for men with possible Zika exposure but without symptoms has increased from at least 8 weeks to at least 6 months after last possible exposure.
The guidance continues to advise:
· Women with possible Zika virus exposure who do not live in areas of active transmission but who are thinking about becoming pregnant should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive.
· Women and men who live in areas with active Zika transmission and who are considering pregnancy in the near future should talk with their healthcare providers about their pregnancy plans during a Zika virus outbreak, the potential risks of Zika, and how they can prevent Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
· Women with possible Zika virus exposure who are not pregnant and do not plan to become pregnant and their male partners who want to minimize their risk of sexual transmission should use condoms in addition to their chosen birth control method or not have sex for the same time periods listed for couples planning pregnancy. Couples should be advised that correct and consistent use of condoms reduces the risk for other sexually transmitted infections.
· Women of reproductive age with possible Zika virus exposure who do not do want to become pregnant should use safe and effective contraception.
The updated recommendations incorporate what’s been learned since the previous guidance was released. The new time period for couples to wait to attempt conception when the man has possible Zika exposure but no symptoms are expected to minimize the risk of sexual transmission around the time of conception and prevent possible early fetal exposure to the Zika virus. CDC updates its interim guidance related to Zika virus and its health effects based on the accumulating evidence, expert opinion, and knowledge about risks associated with other viral infections around the time of conception. As new information becomes available, this guidance will be updated.