The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in the Americas, has been detected in 6 travellers returning to Australia, according to leading virologist Professor Dominic Dwyer. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued new travel advice warning Australians, particularly pregnant women, to reconsider plans to travel to 22 countries affected by the virus in South and Central America, as well as the Pacific island nation of Samoa. Read more.
Advice for travelers: Zika is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and circulating in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Generally milder than dengue and chikungunya, Zika’s symptoms last 4-7 days and include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis. With the apparent exception of pregnant women, long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks – even months for some. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in an urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Travelers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes.
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