by Matt Walsh
A pregnant woman has been revealed as the Australian state of Victoria’s first confirmed Zika virus case – and the second Australian case involving a pregnant woman – Victoria’s Health Minister said on Friday.
The woman, whose details were not released to the media, was recently traveling through affected South American countries while she was pregnant, and contracted the virus before returning to Australia in “recent weeks.”
The virus has been linked to causing a birth defect in newborns, who develop an abnormally small head due to stunted growth in the womb. There is currently no cure for the virus which mostly presents “mild” symptoms.
On Friday, Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy has reiterated a warning for pregnant women to avoid travel to areas susceptible to Zika virus, such as those countries in South and Latin America.
“We are advising all people, but especially pregnant women, or women who may be in trying or intending to get pregnant, to avoid travelling to those countries and places where there has been Zika outbreaks,” she said.
The minister also told all travelers to “get access to good quality information” before traveling to Zika hotspots.
The news follows revelations from Queensland earlier this week of a pregnant woman from southeast Queensland also being diagnosed with the virus.
Despite a recent spike in Zika cases, Hennessy has said there is “no risk” to the general public, as Zika is not able to be transferred from person to person.
“Zika is not present in Australian mosquitoes, and there is no risk in the community of it being passed on,” she said.
Friday’s revelation coincides with a release from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which detailed a number of cases which involved its officers contracting the disease while stationed in affected countries last year.
A spokeswoman for the AFP said on Friday that officers contracted the virus while attending humanitarian work in the Solomon Islands, and all of those affected were being supported by the AFP and the Australian government. The AFP declined to comment on how many officers were diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness.
“The AFP takes the safety and continued wellbeing of its members very seriously and routine medical testing for viruses such as Malaria, Dengue Fever and Zika has been available for a number of years,” the spokeswoman said.
“Medical updates and information regarding a number of mosquito borne viruses are provided to deployed staff on a regular basis.
“The AFP is conscious of ensuring all staff are aware of potential risks.”
Last week, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency over the outbreak of Zika, which has now been reported in 20 countries, including Brazil. Enditem