5 February 2016

Rada Rouse

Following the World Health Organization’s declaration of Zika virus infection as an international public health emergency, Australian scientists* held a briefing on Tuesday 2 February.

Here’s their advice for travellers:

  1. Australian pregnant women are being advised to avoid countries with ongoing transmission.
  2. Travellers to areas with Zika virus should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
  3. Mosquito bites rather than a monkey bite is the most likely cause of a Zika virus case reported in an Indonesian man late last year.
  4. There’s been a steady increase in Australian travellers infected with dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus.
  5. If going to Bali or other regions where Aedes aegypti (the mosquito that can carry Zika) is endemic, take mosquito repellent containing DEET or picaridin rather than buying it locally.
  6. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are active during daylight hours rather than at dusk so put on repellent at breakfast when in endemic countries.
  7. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito, so even if there don’t appear to be many mosquitoes about, you still need to use repellent

* Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne, medical virologist, senior lecturer in communicable disease epidemiology, University of Sydney; Dr Cameron Webb is medical entomologist and principal hospital scientist at the University of Sydney; Professor Lyn Gilbert is from the Marie Bashir Institute, University of Sydney, and is clinical lead, infection prevention and control, Western Sydney Local Health Network.

Last Reviewed: 05/02/2016

Medical Observer