Zika Virus, Should Aussies Be Concerned?
What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is carried by mosquito's and is much like dengue fever and yellow fever in that it has similar symptoms such as:-
- aches and pains in the joints, especially hands and feet, maybe some swelling.
- muscular pain
- headache, with pain behind the eyes
- a skin rash
- lack of energy and feeling weak
The Zika virus is spread by 'infected' mosquitoes and only certain types of mosquitoes. The aedes mosquito family.. Aedes aegypti, the dengue mosquito is in the aedes group that can carry the disease.
There have been some reports of Zika being sexually transmitted but this is low particularly compared with being carried by mosquitoes.
Zika Virus and birth defects.
The link between microcephaly is under investigation due to the significant outbreak of Zika in Brazil and the increased number of babies born with microcephaly.
There are other causes of microcephaly, however the Zika Virus has been found to be present in the brains of babies with microcephaly. There were concerns that a pesticide called pyriproxyfen (used for the control of disease carrying mosquitoes) was linked to microcephaly but this has since been disproved. Further more this pesticide has been in use for decades in Brazil and is used in other countries.
Zika virus can be sexually transmitted, however the primary way a pregnant women can be infected is by getting bitten by an infected mosquito. And Zika virus can be spread to the fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.
It is still unknown if a pregnant woman infected with Zika will actually be affected or the likelihood of the virus passing to the foetus. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html
Is Zika Virus new?
No. The Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, but the first human case wasn't reported until 1952.
It probably wasn't reported as much because the symptoms are similar to many other diseases and in most cases were very mild only lasting for several days after being bitten by the mozzie.
What about Australia?
At the present moment the Zika Virus cases reported in Australia are ONLY from travelers that have been overseas.
To view the current list of countries with reported outbreaks of Zika Virus go to http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-zika-countries.htm this list is constantly being updated as information comes to hand.
How Authorities Are Stopping the Spread to Australia
Border security, monitoring of international ports of entry.
In North and Central Queensland where the Aedes aegyptii and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are present any reports of the virus will be responded to by the health authorities urgently to prevent it from spreading. This includes stopping the infected person from being bitten by mosquitoes and controlling mosquitoes around the persons home.
Is there a vaccine?
NO however a Melbourne based biotech company "Sementis" in partnership with the University of South Australia have developed a protective vaccine for Chikungunya virus (is now in the clinical manufacturing process) and are hoping to adapt the vaccine for Zika.
For we Australians especially the North and Central Queensland mob we're probably best to include insect repellent into our Slip Slop Slap routine because the Slap bit is probably to late.