Zika Virus – the facts

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, the World Health Organisation has just declared the Zika Virus as a public health emergency. There have been heaps of articles on social media feeds, news outlets, government websites, all saying the same thing, but slightly differently…which if you’re anything like me, you’ll find very confusing! So this is a brief outline of the Zika virus…the facts…what you need to know, with credible sources (we’ve taken a lot of info from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention).

What is Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a disease caused by the bite of an infected Aedes (species) mosquito. The virus will not cause defects to a baby conceived after the virus has been cleared from the blood.

How does the Zika Virus spread?
Through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. These are the same mozzies that spread Dengue and Chikungunya. How? Well, these mosquitos bite an infected person….then that infected mosquito bites another person… spreading the virus. The virus can be spread from mama to bub at birth, and scientists are still unsure of how often this virus is being transmitted from mum to bub.

What are the symptoms of the Zika Virus?
Rash, fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis. Symptoms have been reported as developing roughly 2 to 7 days post being bitten by an infected mozzie.

How long does the Zika Virus stay in my blood?
It takes about a week for the Zika Virus to be cleared from the blood.

Where is the Zika Virus at the moment?
Map here

Extract from ABC article – Australia’s chief medical officer Chris Baggoley said of the 23 cases of the virus reported in Australia — all of whom were infected overseas — two had been reported in 2016.

Is the Zika Virus in Australia?
There has been no reports of Zika in Australia. There has been a report of a woman diagnosed with the virus, post trip to Bali.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the virus has the potential to spread in tropical North Queensland where these mosquitos can be found. The way in which it could spread would be for someone infected by the virus to step off a plane, and be bitten by the mosquito and then it spread throughout the local community.

I’m travelling overseas soon, what does this mean for me and my unborn baby?
Currently there is no vaccine or medical treatment for the Zika Virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika Virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

If is safe to use insect repellent when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. Using insect repellent whilst pregnant is safe. Whilst breastfeeding, please be sure to use an EPA-registered repellent.

If I’m not pregnant but I am bitten by a Zika infected mosquito, will any future pregnancies I have be affected by the Zika Virus?
Info extracted from Centre for Disease Control: We do not know the risk to the baby if a woman is infected with Zika Virus while she is pregnant. However, Zika Virus infection does not pose a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. Zika Virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.

 

Reliable sources for information on the Zika Virus:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Australian Government, Smart Traveller

 

 

 

 

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