Two cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in Australia from passengers travelling from the Caribbean back to Sydney.
The affected individuals, luckily, were only mild cases of the virus and have recovered.
“It is very unlikely that Zika virus established local transmission in NSW as the mosquitoes that spread the infection are not established here – although they are found in some parts of north Queensland,” Dr Vicky Sheppeard Director of Communicable Diseases said.
Australia has been in a unique situation of staying free from many diseases that are common in other countries. However, the chances of someone bringing the disease from overseas can not be denied.
Australian border forces have done a pretty good job in protecting the country so far from such dangers but someone who has the virus, but no symptoms, can easily come through the borders.
Pregnant women need to take a great care. It is strongly suggested that women who are pregnant should 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.
There is a high probability that the Zika virus has already been carried into Australia by unsuspecting travellers, but it is unlikely to cause an outbreak outside the tropics, public health researchers say.
The virus mainly spreads though the mosquito bites. It may be a good practice to not allow any still water anywhere in or around the place where you live.
The virus is also believed to be sexually transmitted.
The worldwide affect is no doubt volumnious. WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that the virus could infect as many as four million people in the coming months.
Luckily, the virus is not as deadly as Ebola. Most of the affected people will experience no symptoms or minor symptoms of flu.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Chris Baggoley, said it was important for people not to panic or over-react.
“I did hear the other day that someone likened this, because this might become a public health emergency of international concern, and they thought, ‘Well what’s the most recent one of those? Ebola. It must be like Ebola’,” Professor Baggoley said.
“It is nothing like Ebola at all.”
He said the virus would have only minor symptoms for most people.
“We have a concern for pregnant women,” Professor Baggoley said.
“But otherwise this is not a serious disease in the sense of clinical outcomes.
Professor Baggoley said Australia was well positioned to cope with the virus.
“We know that that mosquito lives in the northern part of Queensland and our colleagues in Queensland have a whole range of public health measures there because dengue fever is the disease they’ve been most concerned about up there,” he said.