Where is Zika found?
Zika Transmission is usually via a subspecies of mosquito called Aedes Aegypti. This breed of mosquito is occasionally found in Far North Queensland where there is concern the virus might become endemic. The highest risk areas are found in Eastern Queensland from Charters Towers, Townsville and Cairns to The Torres Strait Islands.
There were 52 cases of Zika virus detected in Australia between 2012 and 2016.
Countries in Oceana that are currently affected include Fiji, New Caledonia, PNG, Micronesia, Samoa & The Marshall Islands. Other areas of activity are found in Central & South America, The Caribbean. There are pockets of activity in some other countries.
What diseases may Zika Cause?
- There is a link between microcephaly and Zika Virus – a strong link although the precise chances of developing microcephaly are not unknown.
- There is an emerging link between Zika & a disease of the peripheral nervous system called GBS.
What can I do about Zika Virus?
- Try not to travel to a Zika area when you are pregnant.
- Use regular mosquito protection.
Tests for Zika Virus
If you think you might have been infected whilst pregnant, then you will need various tests are recommended by The Australian Health Department. The tests will develop over time. For example, direct viral testing may be performed from 3 to 14 days after exposure. Later on, after the virus has left the body, the diagnosis may be made using antibody testing on blood samples taken 2 weeks apart. Special “Arbovirus reference laboratories” in Australia have been set up to perform the tests.
Zika and Sexual Activity
The Virus may also be sexually transmitted. Men who have had Zika Virus infection and whose partner is trying to get pregnant should use barrier contraception for at least 6 months. This was increased from 3 months after it was found that the virus can survive in semen for 6 months after infection. The virus has been spread by male-to-female, male-to-male and male-to-female sexual partners.
The Australian government Zika advice is that “All males and females should avoid unprotected sex for at least 8 weeks following return from a High Risk country.”