WOL – Pregnant travellers are being advised to avoid Indonesia as doctors warn the Zika virus has spread to its shores.
Though most people who become infected show no serious signs of illness, the mosquito-borne disease can cause deformities in unborn babies.
According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Indonesia is currently experiencing a sporadic outbreak of the virus so the government is urging pregnant women not to visit the country.
“Given the possibility that Zika virus can cause severe malformations in unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should discuss any travel plans with their travel doctor and consider postponing travel to Indonesia,” advises the department.
The UK’s Foreign Office (FCO) has yet to issue advice against travelling to Indonesia, but it recommends pregnant women postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika transmission until after pregnancy.
“In addition it is recommended that women should avoid becoming pregnant while travelling in an area with active Zika virus transmission, and for 28 days following return home,” says the FCO. Zika is attributed with causing birth defects in babies
The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) says there are 50 countries with “active local Zika virus transmission”, including Indonesia. This is where there has been a confirmed case in the last three months, and includes much of the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
The Zika outbreak began in Brazil and some health experts have called for the 2016 Olympics to be postponed. Rio, which will host the Games this summer, has more recorded cases than any other state in the country prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to advise pregnant women against travelling to the country. (telegraph/nia/data1)