Mental & physical health


Avoid mosquito bites

The most common way people get Zika is through bites from infected mosquitoes. To protect yourself from mosquito bites, wear insect repellent when you spend time outside.

To use repellent effectively:

  • Make sure the repellent contains an EPA-registered product, such as:
    • DEET (20% DEET or higher also prevents tick bites).
    • Picaridin.
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus.
    • IR3535.
  • Follow product instructions. Repellent needs to be reapplied for ongoing protection.
  • Apply sunscreen before repellent, not the other way around.
  • An adult should apply repellent to children. DEET can be used on children two months and older. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should only be used on children who are at least three years old.

In addition to using insect repellents:

  • Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened places.
  • Repair broken screens on windows and doors so mosquitoes can’t get inside your house.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves when weather permits.
  • Treat clothing with permethrin if you travel, work outdoors, or spend a lot of time outside.
  • Check, drain, and remove sources of standing water outside your home once or twice a week. Mosquitoes can breed and grow in very small containers that fill with rain water, such as bottle caps and cups. Download our checklist for reducing standing water (PDF).
  • Call our Mosquito Complaint Hotline at (215) 685-9000 to report large mosquito populations in your neighborhood.

Prevent sexual transmission

Some women and men have been infected with Zika by having unprotected sex with a Zika-infected partner. Anyone who thinks they might have Zika should use condoms or other barriers for all types of sex (vaginal, anal, and oral). Women who can become pregnant should consider other, additional, types of birth control.

To protect the baby, pregnant women with a male sex partner who traveled to a country with Zika should use condoms or other oral barriers during sex until the baby is born. For non-pregnant women, safe sex precautions should be used for at least eight weeks following return of their partner from a country with Zika. For males who traveled or anyone who has a male partner who traveled to a country with Zika, condoms need to be used for six months following return from travel. CDC has detailed recommendations available.

Be aware of other ways Zika can spread

People who have traveled recently to areas with active Zika virus transmission or have another possible exposure (e.g., unprotected sex) are at risk for contracting Zika infection. See your doctor or healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area with local Zika virus transmission.

There are other ways of developing Zika virus infection in addition to traveling to an area with local transmission. Possible routes of Zika virus transmission include:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Tissue or organ transplantation
  • Laboratory exposure
  • Mother-to-child transmission

Forms & Instructions

Related content

View printable resources about preventing the spread of Zika at home and abroad.