Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. It causes an infection which is generally a non-severe viral illness with fever but it can cause severe disease by effects on the foetus in pregnant women. It is transmitted by mosquitoes which bite a human. Possible transmission via sex, specifically semen has been reported. The most common mosquito carrying the Zika virus (also carries the Dengue Fever virus) is only found in Northern Queensland and parts of central Queensland. Recent outbreaks have occurred in Central and South America especially in Brazil.

Only about 1 in 5 people infected by Zika virus will have symptoms. These include low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches, headaches, rash.

All travellers should strictly take steps to avoid mosquito bites to prevent Zika virus infection and other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. This includes:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants;
  • Use insect repellents as directed containing DEET (not stronger than 50% concentration) or picardin. Apply this leaving no longer than 4 hours between applications.
  • If using sunscreen, then apply it first and then the repellent.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing (including socks, pants, shirts) and objects such as boots, tents.
  • Bed nets may be necessary depending on the risk described for the particular location.
  • Preferably spend time and sleep in screened in and air-conditioned rooms.

Women who are pregnant (any trimester) or plan to fall pregnant should cautiously postpone travel to any area where Zika virus outbreaks exist.

For specific medical advice before travel click here to make an appointment.