7 things to know if you’re travelling to a Zika virus hotspot
5 February 2016
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:
- Australian pregnant women are being advised to avoid countries with ongoing transmission.
- Travellers to areas with Zika virus should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
- 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.
- There’s been a steady increase in Australian travellers infected with dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus.
- 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.
- Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are active during daylight hours rather than at dusk so put on repellent at breakfast when in endemic countries.
- 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
Mosquito-borne disease prevention
While some of mosquito-borne illnesses are not common, others affect millions of people worldwide. It is always a good idea to protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases.
Yellow fever is a vaccine-preventable illness of varying severity caused by an infection with a virus spread by certain mosquitoes.
Some diseases spread by mosquito bites cannot be treated and may produce long term problems or death.
Japanese encephalitis - a vaccine-preventable viral illness that is spread by mosquitos - can cause inflammation of your brain (encephalitis).
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes in tropical areas, including north Queensland. Most people recover fully, but the severe form - dengue haemorrhagic fever - can be fatal.