There have been reports in the last week that the Zika virus has at least 2 confirmed cases within Australian borders. The NSW Health department has confirmed that passengers coming back from the Caribbean have tested positive for the virus.While it is highly unlikely that the Zika virus has established local transmission in NSW (due to the fact that, that type of mosquito are not traditional for the area), there is still some risk further north in parts of Queensland as the environment is more suited for Zika to spread.
The virus was discovered in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia but only began to surface in the western hemisphere last May. When compared to the Dengue and chikungunya fever, Zika is usually a mild virus. As early as 2007, a South East Asian strain of the Zika started to move across the South Pacific, causing outbreaks in areas where there was no immunity. In 2013, during an outbreak in French Polynesia, doctors confirmed at least 42 cases of Guillain-Barresydrome, which can cause paralysis. This was the first time that hinted that Zirka could attack the nervous system.
There is a warning for pregnant women not to travel to areas that are affected as they pose the highest risk, as the virus may cause a birth defect called microcephaly. Any plans to travel to these areas where an outbreak has occurred should be reconsidered. Parts of the world where there are current out breaks include; South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Samoa and Tonga. If
All travelers are advised to take the following mosquito bite prevention measures:
- Apply insect repellent and wear light-coloured clothes to prevent bites.
- Use screens or close doors and windows in houses, and use mosquito nets for sleeping.
- Don’t leave containers that hold at hold water (such as buckets, pots) lying about.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Check with your health insurance provider to ensure that you are covered for Zika
Image provided by the Economist.