- Travel and Zika Virus -
All persons going to a Zika risk area need to avoid day-biting mosquitoes, while away AND for 3 weeks after returning home if you live in an area where the mosquitoes occur (e.g. Townsville and Cairns) so you don't inadvertently pass on the Zika virus to local mosquitoes.
Women of child bearing age
If you are pregnant
- Do not go to Zika infected areas.
- If your partner has been to a Zika infected area, you should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
If you are not pregnant now, you can go to Zika areas but take precautions not to get pregnant for 8 weeks after your return. After 8 weeks no congenital abnormalities from the Zika virus will occur - it does not stay in your system like some diseases e.g. Shingles.
Men of child bearing age
If your partner is pregnant
- Ideally, do not go to a Zika infected area.
- If you do go, then on your return, you should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
If your partner is not pregnant and you go to a Zika area, then on your return:
- If no symptoms of Zika: use condoms for 12 weeks to protect your partner.
- If you have Zika symptoms: use condoms for 6 months to protect your partner.
How bad is Zika
Many people infected with Zika virus do not even know they are infected, and do not get any symptoms at all.
For those who become unwell, the sickness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting up to a week.
Very rarely Zika may trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). This is a very rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. It is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of people. GBS can also be triggered by other infections e.g. influenza. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.
Prevention of Zika
There is currently no vaccine against Zika.
The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus bite during the day – they are the same mosquitoes that carry Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever, Aedes Aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Dengue fever generally feels much worse than the symptoms of the Zika virus, so avoiding mosquitoes is a good idea for many reasons, not just Zika. To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes use a good repellent, regularly, e.g. after every meal. We recommend Repel which is a tropical strength repellent with 30% DEET or, if you are travelling to an area with high humidity ceusing heaving sweating, we suggest 80% DEET Bushman Insect Repellent.
Confused and worried about the latest travel related health scare?
Here are some links to answer some of your questions and put you at ease: