Here in California, the Zika virus remains a serious public health concern to people traveling to areas with Zika. There are three main ways to contract Zika virus: (1) from mosquitoes in affected areas, (2) through unprotected sex, and (3) from an infected mother to her developing baby. Those who travel to areas where Zika is circulating are most at risk of contracting the virus.

So far in California, Zika virus infections have only been documented in people who were infected while traveling to areas with ongoing Zika transmission. At this time, there has been no known local transmission of Zika in California.

The mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) have been detected in an increasing number of counties throughout California, including the California-Baja and California-border region (San Diego and Imperial Counties).

The California Department of Public Health recently released a public service announcement on the subject: you can view it here.

Here are a few things everyone needs to know about Zika.

Zika is mosquito-borne virus that can infect both men and women. Most concerning of all, the virus can have detrimental effects on a pregnant women’s developing baby. This is why it is up to all of us to stay vigilant.

First and foremost, CDPH advises pregnant women not to go areas with Zika. As you make travel plans, you can find out where Zika is present by visiting the following site:

If you or your partner must travel to an area with Zika, it is important to know that the virus is spread through sex and can persist in men for up to six months, and women, for 8 weeks. The only way to avoid getting the virus through sex is to abstain from sex entirely. Otherwise, safe sex with condom use should be practiced.

When traveling, be sure to use EPA-registered insect repellent consistently and correctly to protect against mosquito bites. Continue to use repellent for 3 weeks after you return to prevent the spread of Zika back home. See your doctor right away if you have been to an area with Zika and have Zika symptoms like fever, rash, red eyes or joint pain.

Couples planning pregnancy when either has been exposed to the Zika virus should speak with their health care provider about a safe time to try to get pregnant.