05 February 2016

Zika virus confirmed in adult

The Department of Health today reported that a Western Australian adult who recently returned from central America has been diagnosed with Zika virus infection. This is the second case ever notified in WA, following a single case in 2015.

Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infectious Aedes mosquitoes, most commonly Aedes aegypti, the same species that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses in tropical countries.

Most people who are infected with Zika virus have no symptoms, or experience only a mild illness. However, a recent large increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly; a small head with abnormal brain development – has been linked to outbreaks of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries.

WA Health Chief Health Officer Professor Tarun Weeramanthri said that there was no risk to Western Australians who had not recently travelled to a Zika-affected country.

The Zika infection is only transmitted via Aedes mosquitoes and not by human-to-human contact, except possibly, very rarely, by sexual means. Aedes mosquitoes are not found in Western Australia, so there is no recognised risk of the virus spreading here,” he said.

Anyone who has recently returned from a Zika-affected country and has symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle/joint pain or general tiredness, should seek advice from their GP.

If you have returned from a Zika-affected country and are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you should see your GP – regardless of whether you have symptoms.”

Zika virus infection is nationally notifiable under Flavivirus (unspecified). Since 2012, there have been 23 cases of Zika virus infection reported in Australia, all of whom were infected overseas.

People travelling to countries where there is transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, including, Zika, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and malaria, should take precautions against mosquito bites.

Western Australians planning travel to Zika-affected countries should visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smart Traveller website (external site) for up-to-date information and travel advice.

For more information on the virus visit healthywa.wa.gov.au and search Zika virus.