AT A GLANCE
- Zika virus is spread mostly by the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes species. They bite mostly during the daytime
- Zika is not a new virus, but the areas in which it is found are spreading.
- It is found in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. The current outbreak is in Brazil. Zika virus has been reported in many other countries.
- Zika virus can be spread from the mother to her baby during pregnancy. Infections during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects in babies. The most commonly recognized is microcephaly which is a birth defect of the brain.
- 4 out of 5 people who contract Zika virus will have NO symptoms and won’t know they have the virus.
- Common symptoms include red eyes, joint pain, fever and rash.
- Symptoms are usually mild and can last a few days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to hospital and rarely die of Zika virus.
- In non pregnant adults a disease called Guillan Barre Syndrome MAY be linked to Zika virus. This is not proven yet. Guillan Barre Syndrome is a condition affecting the nervous system which can be life threatening.
- Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible from a male
- There is currently no treatment or vaccine for Zika.
ARE WE AT RISK IN AUSTRALIA?
- There have been a few cases of Zika virus in Australia. In ALL cases the disease was contracted overseas.
- The mosquitos that carry Zika virus are found in North Queensland.
- It is unknown if you are pregnant and become infected with Zika virus how likely it is your baby will be affected or how likely it is your baby will have birth defects.
- Current advice is to delay all non essential travel to areas that carry Zika virus if you are planning a pregnancy in the near future or are already pregnant. If you must travel, see your doctor before you go.
- Male partners of women planning a pregnancy should also follow this advice, as sexual transmission of the Zika virus can occur.
- For women who are already pregnant and have travelled to an area that has Zika virus, see your doctor even if you feel well.
- Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel notice for people travelling to areas where Zika is spreading.
- For areas where Zika is currently found:
- Protection against mosquito bites is recommended if you are travelling to and area that contains Zika virus.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and pants
- Treat clothing with permethrin. You can speak to your doctor about this
- Stay in accommodation with screens or air conditioning
- Sleep under a mosquito net if possible
- Use EPA registered mosquito repellents
- Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
- World Health Organisation
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners