A latest news reported by The Age has confirmed a case of Zika Virus in a pregnant Victorian women after returning from overseas. It is not revealed which country she travelled to as to protect her privacy. However health professionals are advising women who are pregnant or wish to get pregnant to consider postponing travelling to any country with active Zika virus transmission.
According to ABC News Australia, Victoria's Health Department has released a health alert urging Victorians to "get access to good quality information" before travelling to countries where there was a Zika prevalence. The virus has been identified in 25 countries and currently have active transmission in Brazil and other parts of Central and South America.
On top of that according to Victoria's acting Chief Health Officer Roscoe Taylor, Zika Virus could also be sexually transmitted other than being transmitted by mosquitoes.
Symptoms of Zika Virus can include a fever, a rash which is sometimes itchy, and joint pains. However it is important to note that 80% of the time there might not be symptom at all. Hence, pregnant who have travelled to high risk Zika Virus areas and have symptoms should seek their GP for testing.
My heart goes out to pregnant women diagnosed with Zika Virus, it is truly an extremely stressful and anxious period for these women not knowing whether their unborn child is affected.
If you haven't heard about Zika Virus, you need to pay attention to this as it is currently very active in a few countries and the virus is spreading explosively as commented by WHO's director general Margaret Chan.
Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to severe birth defects in newborns with the common presentation being microcephaly (smaller than normal heads). These babies born with microcephaly will experience developmental and health problems.
There is a lot unknown about the Zika Virus and hence there is no vaccine/ cure as such. It is very important to highlight that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil and several other countries in the Americas where Zika outbreaks have occurred.
If you are currently pregnant, you should be more careful of where you are traveling to and whether you are in the high risk zone. Prevention is of upmost important at this point, namely removing any stagnant water, wear protective clothing, insect repellents etc. You can find out more from the video below.
Dr Nicole Ng (MBBS) is a medical doctor with a passion in women's health and medical research