Zika virus in Australia

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In Australia, Zika can only be carried by one type of Australian mosquito - the yellow fever mosquito - and it does not live outside the tropics. For the disease to spread in Australia, an infected person would need to be bitten by a yellow fever mosquito, which then infected other people.

As of 10 February 2016, 23 cases of Zika were reported in Australia. In all of the cases, the virus was contracted overseas.

In 2014, four cases of Zika virus was reported in New South Wales from people who traveled from Cook Island. In 2015, a traveller from the Solomon Island caught Zika virus.

In 2016, five people were confirmed to have Zika virus so far, all of whom contracted the virus overseas.

According to the health department officials of New South Wales, the outbreak of Zika virus in New South Wales is unlikely as the spread of infection is not established in NSW. However, the virus was found in some parts of north Queensland.

Queensland

11 cases of Zika virus was found in Queensland since 2014. There have been no reports of local transmission of the virus. There were seven confirmed cases of Zika in Queensland in 2014 and 4 in 2015.

The first case of Zika virus in a pregnant women since the World Health Organization has announced a public health emergency was confirmed on 10 February 2016. This is the third confirmed case of Zika virus in Queensland in a week.

On 25 February 2016, a Queeslander was diagnosed with Zika virus, bringing the total count of Zika cases in Queensland to 8.

Victoria

On 12 February 2016, a pregnant woman from Victoria has been diagnosed with Zika virus. The woman has traveled to a country that has Zika virus and returned back with the virus symptoms. Victoria's health minister Jill Hennessy said the diagnosis is very concerning. The woman had suffered with a fever and other Zika virus symptoms which led her to get blood work done. The blood tests confirmed presence of Zika virus.

2016

On February 2, two cases of Zika virus has been confirmed. The patients traveled from the Caribbean back to Sydney. The NSW Health department has confirmed the cases, but said that it did not pose a serious threat to Australia.

On February 4, health experts slammed critics who claimed that administration of a popular vaccine to pregnant women causes Zika virus. Members of the "Anti Vaccination Australia" Facebook group, say it's no coincidence the Tdap vaccine used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) in pregnant women was introduced in Brazil just months before the Zika virus outbreak.

On February 6, Queensland health minister Cameron Dick has confirmed two positive cases of Zika virus in the State. The first case was reported on the Gold Coast after a woman in her 20s returned from a holiday in El Salvador in Central America last December. She saw a GP in mid-December and was told she had a Flavivirus. However, she fell ill again and recently presented to a Gold Coast Hospital. After further tests, she was tested positive for Zika virus in January and is now recovering at home. The second case involved a child who returned from Samoa with their family and became ill. Both are recovering well. The child was admitted to the hospital on Feb 4. The Queensland State Government will spend $400,000 to increase the capacity of its laboratories, including a new testing centre in Townsville in north Queensland. Inspite of the two cases, Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said southeast Queensland wasn't at risk of Zika.

On February 7, the Australian government said that it would contribute up to $500,000 to Tonga and other Pacific countries to help stop spread of Zika virus. Minister for the Pacific Steven Ciobo said stopping of Zika virus in Pacific is essential to protecting Australia from the virus.

Travel Advisory

Women who are pregnant, or could be pregnant, are being advised to consider delaying their travel to regions where there is active Zika virus outbreaks, including parts of South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Samoa and Tonga.

Research

The University of South Australia announced it was working on a Zika vaccine with Australian biotech Sementis Ltd.