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The Government's principal advisor on health and disability: improving, promoting and protecting the health of all New Zealanders

What you need to know about Zika

Dr Stewart Jessamine gives a two-minute explanation of what New Zealanders should know about the Zika virus outbreak overseas.

I’m Dr Stewart Jessamine from the Ministry of Health.

International research is happening on Zika because of a possible link between the infection and severe birth defects. Here are five things New Zealanders should know about Zika virus.

Firstly, Zika virus is transmitted by a species of mosquito that we do not have in New Zealand. We have systems in place at the border to try to make sure that this mosquito does not get established in New Zealand, and so, the risk of transmission of Zika virus in New Zealand is extremely small.

All of the cases of Zika that have been reported in New Zealand are in travellers who’ve returned from the Pacific Islands where Zika is being transmitted.

Zika virus is a mild illness for most people. Four out of five people who get Zika in fact have no symptoms whatsoever. The reason that there’s a lot of research occurring on Zika virus, is because of recent research that suggests there might be a link between infection and severe birth defects.

Prevention is the key, as there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection at this point in time. If you are travelling overseas, you should talk to your doctor before you leave, about the health risks in the countries you’re visiting and what steps you can take to avoid them, including what steps you can take to stop or minimise the risk of being bitten by a mosquito.

Until we know more, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should consider delaying your travel to any country where Zika virus is being actively transmitted.

If you need any further information, go to the Ministry of Health website. The SafeTravel website also contains advice for travellers.

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