Australia Equipped to deal with the Zika Virus

Australia Equipped to deal with the Zika Virus

Published: 3:33 pm, Sunday, 31 January 2016

As the devastating impacts of Zika virus hit Latin America, Australia is preparing for a potential outbreak.

Health authorities have linked the virus, which in itself is only a mild disease, to microcephaly - which prevents foetus' brains from developing properly.

There is no vaccine, and if a pregnant woman contracts the disease there is a chance their baby could be born with the rare and debilitating condition.

The same species of mosquito that spreads Zika, Aedes, is also found in Far North Queensland, but health authorities say there is little chance of the area suffering a similar outbreak.

Expert on mosquito-borne viruses Dr Cameron Webb spoke to Sky News about the likelihood of an outbreak in Far North Queensland, and said the state is well equipped to deal with the virus.

'We're very fortunate that the authorities in Far North Queensland have a lot of experience dealing with these small outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

'Exactly the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever in Far North Queensland is the species that's spreading Zika virus'.

He said the only threat is if a traveller comes into the area and infects local mosquitoes - but even then it is likely it would be contained.

'Authorities already have strategic framework in place so they can respond, so any outbreak is likely to be very minor.'

However, Dr Webb has warned any women who are pregnant, or who are planning to get pregnant, to avoid regions experiencing the outbreak.

He said if women can't delay their trips they need to take precautions.

'If you are travelling to these areas, if you are a man or a woman, pregnant or not, you should be using mosquito repellants to provide the best protection against these mosquitoes that may be transmitting Zika virus in South and Central America.'

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2nd Feb 2016 Sky News

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