ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE

The 2016 Summer Olympics are just a few weeks away and many of the athletes are currently enroute or have already arrived in Brazil. Travel warnings unfortunately remain in place despite this big event due to the Zika Virus. Pregnant women or those planning pregnancy need to be aware of the risks not only when travelling to Brazil but also other areas in the Americas & Pacific with known active Zika Virus transmission. Please check if planning a holiday that the area you plan to travel too is not on the list of affected areas.

The current NSW HEALTH recommendation is  that pregnant women are strongly advised NOT  to travel to the affected areas. If however pregnant women still plan to visit these areas they must be vigilant in protecting themselves against mosquito bites. (information available  on the MC& M Website -Health Alerts in regards to how best to avoid being bitten by mosquitos).Pregnant women should also avoid having unprotected sex with a partner who may have recently travelled to a ZIKA virus affected area  for their entire pregnancy.

Any woman who may have been exposed to the virus with or without symptoms  requires testing if pregnant or planning pregnancy in the near future. A woman who has a positive result will not always have a baby that is affected by the virus but expert advice should always be sought to ensure the right follow up occurs.

The following  website presents in table format the current Australian Guidelines for Pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy.

www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-zika.htm

Advice if Travelling to the Summer Olympics in Rio 2016 please follow this link.

www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/Travel-advice-Summer -Olympics-Rio-2016.aspx

Further information can be found on the NSW Health Website.

ZIKA VIRUS ALERT

As many of you will be aware from the media there is currently a health alert for pregnant women in relation to the Zika virus. The Zika virus infection is a mild febrile viral illness associated with a possible rash, headache and joint aches. The virus is transmitted by a specific type of mosquito. Incubation phase is usually 3-12 days & symptoms improve within 7 days. There is currently no antiviral treatment for the Zika Virus.

Aedes aegypti is the mosquito that carries the virus it is also the vector for Dengue Fever & Malaria. It is found in Central and South America, the Caribbean, tropical Africa, South East Asia, Pacific Islands & other subtropical areas including North Queensland and some parts of Central Queensland.

Many will have not heard of the virus before although it is not a new virus having been first discovered in monkeys in the Zika Forest in Uganda, in the 1940’s. The outbreaks in the past have been small and infrequent and thought not to have caused harm. In 2015 an outbreak of the virus in Brazil that affected over 1 million people has resulted in scientists making possible links with Zika and developmental malformations in foetus’s.

TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS

Pregnant women or those planning pregnancy are advised where possible to postpone travel to affected areas.

PREVENTION

If travelling to possible affected areas, precautions are needed day & night.

  • Long sleeved shirts & pants
  • Insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin (safe to use by pregnant & or breastfeeding women  & on infants older than 2 months)
  • If you use sunscreen as well, apply sunscreen first followed by repellent.
  • Bed Nets
  • Stay & sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms

**Remember after rain to check around your property and garden & empty any water in vessels to discourage the mosquito population in your own environment multiplying!

Further information can be found via the following links.

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/zika-virus-alert.aspx

http:// www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/mosquito.aspx