The Zika virus reaches Australia

Richard Laycock 5 February 2016

NSW Health Department confirms two cases of Zika virus on Australian shores

Zika Virus Bug

With the first cases of the Zika virus hitting our shores in Sydney, there has been some panic as to whether the Zika virus is a serious concern for those living in Australia. According to the NSW Health department, the Zika virus does not pose a serious threat to those living in the metropolitan areas of Sydney.

Why? We don't have the right mosquitos.

The Zika virus is carried by a specific kind of mosquito, the Yellow Fever mosquito. The good news is that this type of mosquito is not found in any major metropolitan area of Sydney.

While this type of mosquito is found in northern parts of Australia in areas such as Cairns or Townsville, the local authorities are prepared and have a strategic response plan in place. The Zika virus is passed on in much the same way as dengue fever, which affects between a dozen and a thousand people each year in Australia.

The transmission of the Zika virus happens in much the same way as dengue fever. An infected person arrives in Australia, that person is bitten by a mosquito and the virus is then passed onto someone else.

What does this mean for Australians heading overseas?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared South America’s Zika epidemic a public health emergency, which prompted us to speak with Fast Cover about how the Zika virus was being treated by insurers:

  • Is the Zika virus classed as a known event? This would be considered a known event as it has been widely publicised in the media. It has not been classed by WHO, Smartraveller or Allianz Global Assistance as an epidemic or pandemic.
  • What if this does get designated as an official pandemic or epidemic? In the event that it is an actual, likely or threat of pandemic or epidemic, it would fall under a general exclusion.

Fast Cover expects to issue a travel advisory in the near future.

For more information about the Zika virus, tips and travel insurance information, please head to our dedicated Zika virus page.

Picture: Shutterstock

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