Zika spreading

India is in the throes of the largest Zika virus outbreak ever experienced, with the majority of cases reported from the Rajasthan state capital of Jaipur, with experts warning other Indian cities and countries with close connections to the city to prepare for possible imported cases. As of the end of October, there have been 147 cases reported in Jaipur, a popular tourist destination, and the outbreak is spreading to neighbouring Gujarat reporting 1 case and Madhya Pradesh state reporting 3 infections. Of concern is the potential spread of the virus, with a group of a Canadian-led researchers finding that 94% of travellers travelling out of Rajasthan travelled to Indian cities, mostly Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata. International cities in the top 20 destinations included Bangkok, Muscat, and Singapore.

Advice for travellers

Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT). Read more about Zika

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.