What is the Zika Virus?
Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne disease carried by the Aedes mosquito and is found in a growing number of countries around the world. The first human cases of Zika were recorded in 1952, with outbreaks occurring in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The spread to South America and Caribbean has been recent.
Zika transmission occurs from the bite of an infected mosquito or by sex with an infected person (through infected semen).
Most people infected with Zika may have little or no symptoms but it can cause fever, rash, headaches, pain in the joints and red eyes. The symptoms usually disappear within 2 weeks.
The biggest risk is to pregnant women as it can be passed to the fetus and cause microcephaly (incomplete development of the brain) and has been linked to other birth defects.
Pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas where the Zika Virus is present, or have unprotected sex with a partner that has travelled to an area with Zika for the duration of their pregnancy.
Zika infection can be confirmed by a blood or urine test.
Where is the Zika Virus found?
Transmission of the Zika Virus from mosquitoes has been confirmed in nearly 60 countries and territories around the world. These include almost all of the Americas and Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and Singapore (see the full list at the bottom of this page).
View our Mozzie Map to see the spread of Zika and other common mosquito diseases.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends pregnant women consider postponing non-essential travel to the following Southeast Asian countries as the risk of Zika infection cannot be ruled out:Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor, Vietnam.
How to prevent Zika infection
The best protection is preventing mosquito bites as there are no vaccines, medicines or treatments for Zika Virus.
The mosquitoes that transfer Zika (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) are urban-based mosquitoes and bite during the day and night so you need to take care at all times.
- Check the risk of Zika Virus before you travel and consider postponing non-essential travel if pregnant.
- Wear clothing with long sleeves and long pants and if necessary treat with permethrin.
- Use effective insect repellents on exposed skin. The best insect repellents for Zika Virus are recommended by the World Health Organisation and include DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- When sleeping use a insecticide treated net if not sleeping in enclosed and air conditioned accommodation.
- Cover cots, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito nets.
- Use condoms or don’t have sex to prevent sexual transmission.
- If you have contracted the Zika Virus, avoid mosquito bites as they will become carriers of the virus and could continue to spread it to other people.
Full list of countries with confirmed Zika cases
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
US Virgin Islands