Zika Virus Infomation

Safety Office

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika Virus outbreak an international emergency, calling the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne virus an “extraordinary event”.  The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a travel advisory for Canadians travelling to areas that have been affected by an outbreak of Zika virus.

This message is being provided to inform members of the UWinnipeg community of some potential risks associated with the Zika virus and the steps that may be taken to reduce the risk.

At the current time, the WHO and PHAC advise that:

  • There should be no restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission,
  • Travellers to areas with Zika virus transmission should be provided with up to date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites,
  • It is recommended that pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant discuss their travel plans with their health care provider to assess their risk and consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is activeg. If travel cannot be postponed, strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed to protect against bites.

What is it?

The Zika virus is transmitted by a mosquito bite from infected Aedes mosquitoes, which are distributed widely throughout the tropics and subtropics. They bite during the day and early evening.  

What are the symptoms?

About 80% of affected individuals are asymptomatic. Those who develop symptoms usually develop a mild, self- limiting disease, resolving within 7 days of symptom onset. Symptoms generally appear 3-14 days following a bite from an infected mosquito. Symptoms commonly include: acute onset of low grade fever (38.5C or lower), rash, joint pains, conjunctivitis. Less common symptoms have included muscle aches, weakness, lethargy and headaches.

There is a speculative association between the Zika virus and birth defects. There is evidence to suggest that pregnant women are either more susceptible or develop more severe presentations. 

What is the treatment?

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Zika virus infection.

How can I reduce the chances of Zika virus infection?

Prevention is key. Travelers to outbreak regions should use appropriate mosquito repellants, such as those containing DEET or Icaridin, wear protective clothing, and use bed nets. Every effort should be made to keep mosquitoes out of living areas by ensuring doors are closed, window screens are in good repair and using air conditioning.

Links with additional information:

Health Links

24-hour phone line at (204) 788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257 for any questions or concerns. 

Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors:

Public Health Agency of Canada:

World Health Organization:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Government of Canada – Travel Smart App for Smart Phones. Receive up-to-the-minute travel information on your smart phone wherever you are.