News

26-01-2016

The Australian Health Department and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have advised pregnant women to consider delaying travel to areas known to be hotspots for Zika Virus due to fears that the virus is the cause of microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome and neurological conditions in adults.  

Regions of known Zika virus activity in the past include the Pacific Islands including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Southeast Asia,  southern and central America, including Brazil. Currently the areas include Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Equador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Venezuela and Barbados.

There are neither vaccine nor preventive medications available to prevent infection with the Zika virus , which is usually a mild illness spread by the Aedes mosquito causing acute fever ( within 2 weeks of travel), rash, arthralgia ( especially of small joints of hands and feet) , myalgia,   headache ( retro-ocular) , or conjunctivitis. More uncommonly there may be digestive problems such as pain, diarrhoea, constipation, mouth ulcers and generalised itch  It is closely related to Dengue.  The incubation period is 3-12 days and the acute symptoms settle in 4-7 days.

Last year there were six imported cases reported in Australia, twelve imported cases in 2014 and none reported so far this year.

Until more is known about Zika virus pregnant women in any trimester or who plan to become pregnant are advised to postpone travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. The situation is rapidly changing and monitoring of Zika Virus will occur on an ongoing basis with updates to the Department of Health website ( health.gov.au) at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html


 

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