The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been occupying the news for weeks now prompted by what appears to be a huge spike in the number of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly (small heads).
“There is no immediate cause for alarm in the South West region,” said Doctor Kin Lee. “The mosquito known to carry the Zika virus — Aedes aegypti — is not local to the south-west of Western Australia.”
However, the Aedes aegypti mosquito can be found in northern parts of Queensland, countries in the Americas, Oceania/Pacific Islands and Africa.
“At present there is no vaccine for Zika virus,” said Dr Lee. “Anyone planning on travelling to Zika infected areas should take personal insect repellent containing, at least, thirty-five percent DEET and pregnant women should consider postponing travel to these countries altogether.”
Doctor Lee said while the Zika virus may not pose an immediate risk in Busselton, local mosquito-borne viruses like Ross River and Barmah Forest do.
About three out of ten people infected with Ross River and or Barmah Forest virus will develop symptoms within three to 21 days after being bitten.
“If you suddenly experience a headache, sore throat and muscles, aching tendons and swollen lymph nodes, contact your GP,” said Doctor Lee. “There is a simple blood test to determine if you have contracted either of the viruses.”
The risk of contracting Ross River and Barmah Forest is highest from September until May. There is no vaccine or specific medical cure. The best form of protection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Cover up and use DEET based repellents. Eliminate backyard mosquito breeding habitats. Add screens to all doors and windows to insect-proof your home to keep ‘mozzies’ out.