News

24-07-2016

Bali has now been listed as experiencing " sporadic transmission" of Zika virus and travellers  have been advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to exercise a " high degree of caution" and pregnant women should consider postponing travel. Zika virus has been associated with severe malformations in unborn babies, the link has not yet been proven, but the epidemiological evidence is concerning. Exposure in the first trimester has been linked to  severe deformities, but it is not yet  known  whether the concern applies to the whole of pregnancy.

The virus has been found in the semen of men for long periods after exposure to the disease and currently men are recommended to practice safe sex for six months after infection.

The World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency of international concern on 20th June.. It is the fourth time this level of emergency has been declared for events that constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of the disease. The previous events involved the ebola outbreak in 2014, the reappearance of polio in 2014 and the H1N1 /swine flu pandemic of 2009.

There are other serious mosquito-bourne viruses in Bali, such as dengue which are much more common,  but the potential risk of severe foetal malformations associated with Zika virus means it is important for pregnant to consider postponing  travel to Bali, even though the actual risk of transmission is low.

Other countries listed as having current or recent transmission of the Zika virus include Fiji, Vietnam, Brazil and Samoa.

See health.gov.au for a list of countries with current or recent local transmission of Zika Virus. The situation changes rapidly and on an ongoing basis and the site is updated regularly.

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