31 August 2017

Zika warning issued for Fiji

Communicable Disease Sex Women

Some Australians might need to write off Fiji as a travel destination, after the US Centers for Disease Control issued a level two Zika virus warning for the Pacific island nation this week.

Public health officials have found mosquitoes in Fiji are infected with Zika and are spreading it to humans. The virus was first detected in Fiji in 2015.

The CDC recommends pregnant women stop travelling to Fiji as the Zika infection can be passed to the fetus, causing severe birth defects.

Pregnant women with a partner who has travelled to Fiji recently should use condoms or refrain from sex for the rest of the pregnancy, the CDC says.

“Before you or your partner travel, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection,” the CDC advises.

The symptoms of Zika in adults include fever, rash and headache, but many people contract the zika virus without obvious symptoms.

The virus persists in semen for longer than other bodily fluids, so the CDC warns couples to wait at least six months before attempting to conceive if the man has travelled to Fiji.

As the virus only survives for a shorter time in females, women could safely conceive two months after returning from a Zika region, or after two months from the start of symptoms, as long as their partner had not also travelled to a Zika region.

“Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, travellers should take steps to prevent getting Zika during travel,” the CDC says.

This includes using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing and hanging mosquito nets over beds.