Sunday 11 December 2016

Rise in enquiries on Zika virus risk

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

The Aedes mosquito is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus Photo: AP
The Aedes mosquito is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus Photo: AP

The decision of golfers Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry to pull out of the Olympics in Brazil over fears about the Zika virus has led to more people wanting information about the risk.

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Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn't harmful.

However, it may be more serious for pregnant women as there's evidence it causes birth defects - in particular, abnormally small heads (microcephaly).

Zika does not naturally occur in Ireland. Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region, and the virus has now spread to South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Experts predict that Zika virus will spread to all countries in the Americas (including the Caribbean), with the exception of Chile and Canada, where aedes mosquitoes, who spread the disease, are not present.

People travelling to affected areas should seek travel health advice before their trip. It is recommended that pregnant women postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission. These are areas where cases of Zika virus disease have been acquired locally, through mosquito bites, and reported by health authorities within the last three months.

For more information go to hpsc.ie or the Department of Foreign Affairs website which has country and advice updates.

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