Zika virus infection (Zika) is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Zika is found in countries in Africa, Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas. Travellers to affected areas should avoid mosquito bites to prevent infection. Pregnant women should avoid travelling to Zika-affected countries.
Zika virus infection (Zika) is caused by the Zika virus which is transmitted by certain types of Aedes Mosquitoes. It can also be spread through sexual transmission, although this is rare.
Zika can cause the following conditions:
Most infections (around 60-80%) don’t cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are usually mild and last 4 to 7 days.
The main symptoms of Zika are:
Symptoms usually develop from 3 to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
It may be difficult to tell the difference between Zika symptoms and symptoms of other mosquito-borne infections such as dengue and chikungunya. Speak to your doctor about any symptoms you have following travel to areas affected by these mosquito-borne infections.
Zika is mainly spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito (the Dengue mosquito). It is possible that other mosquitoes in the Aedes family may also be able to spread the virus.
If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, it can be passed to her baby.
Sexual transmission has also been reported, though this is rare.
There is a theoretical risk of Zika transmission following transfusion of blood or a blood product collected from someone who was infected with the virus. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service currently requires donors who have travelled to countries with mosquito borne viruses such as dengue, malaria and Zika, to wait 4 months before donating blood.
People who travel to Zika affected areas, such as Africa, Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas, are at risk of getting Zika.
See the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for a map showing the risk of Zika transmission in different countries.
There is currently no known risk of Zika in Australia.
The sexual partners of people who have been infected with Zika while travelling overseas are also at risk.
Due to the concerns about the risk of severe outcomes for unborn babies, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should consider delaying their travel to areas with active outbreaks of Zika.
There is currently no vaccine against Zika.
Protect yourself against mosquitoes and the risk of diseases they transmit:
In addition to the general protection measures above, overseas travellers should also:
For more information about:
Zika may cause severe birth defects. Pregnant women should avoid travel to countries with active Zika outbreaks and
reconsider travel to countries with past Zika outbreaks. For information on Zika activity by country, see the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy, talk to your doctor about the risk of Zika in the country you are travelling to. Follow their advice.
Your doctor can take a blood sample and have it tested for:
A second blood test taken two weeks later may be required to confirm a recent infection.
There is no specific treatment for Zika. Your doctor can give you advice on how to treat any symptoms with medications such as paracetamol.
Treatment with aspirin or ibuprofen is not recommended because of:
Pregnant women with Zika will be referred for specialist obstetric assessment for advice on the monitoring of their baby.
Laboratories notify their local public health unit when they confirm someone has Zika.
Public health units follow up each case to find out where the person may have got the infection. This information is important to help identify if transmission is occurring in areas considered to be low risk. It also aims to prevent transmission in areas of Australia that have the type of mosquito that can spread Zika virus.
For further information on the public health response please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.
you have symptoms of Zika and you are concerned, speak to your doctor right away, or in an emergency call 000. For health advice you can also Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for free 24-hour health advice or speak to your local pharmacist.