Zika Virus Spreading Among Australian Tourists?

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller website has issued a warning on the fast-spreading Zika virus, warning Australian tourists to be careful.

The government claimed that Australians, especially pregnant women, need to remain careful and follow relevant advice to get avoid the virus. The unborn babies are most likely to be affected by the mosquito-borne virus. The warning also shows concerns over travellers’ decision to travel to any of the 22 countries, including South and Central America and the Pacific Island country Samoa that is affected by the Zika virus at the moment.

“Until more is known about Zika virus, and taking a very cautious approach, we advise women who are pregnant (in any trimester) or who plan to become pregnant to consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” the statement on the website read. “If you decide to travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.”

The Zika virus is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It was first reported carried by a rhesus monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. The virus is commonly found in West and Central Africa along with its traces found in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Micronesia, Indonesia and Malaysia. The Zika virus reports in Australia have been from people coming from the affected areas. No locally acquired infections have yet been reported, though.

Medical director for Travelvax Australia Eddie Bajrovic asked Australians not to postpone or cancel their travel plans as the virus has a mild effect on the host. “The Zika virus generally is a mild illness so I would’t be suggesting that people change their travel plans except specifically for pregnant women because of this new association we’ve found between Zika virus infection and pregnant women and the foetal abnormality of microcephaly in their babies,” Bajrovic said as quoted by SBS Australia.

Melbourne’s Monash University’s Department of Microbiology Professor Christian Doerig suggested that travellers need to be careful as there is no harm in being cautious about diseases with no vaccines or drugs available for treatment. Hence people should avoid being bit by mosquitoes.

Along with travellers, olympians in Rio de Janeiro have also been issued a warning so that they remain alert as far as Zika virus risks are concerned. The Australian Olympic Committee spokesman told NewsCorp that the team’s Medical Director David Hughes was monitoring the entire situation closely. The committee said that the risk of the disease in Rio is less when compared to other regions of Brazil. Still, the players must be cautious and prevent mosquito bites all the times.

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