Zika virus has spread to Bali

Peter Terlato 22 June 2016

Bali - Peter - Ricefields - Ubud

Pregnant women should exercise extra caution.

Aussies travellers visiting Bali have been warned of potential health risks after reports the mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread to parts of Indonesia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) encouraged Australians to exercise a "high degree of caution" and protect themselves against mosquito bites as this is how the virus is transmitted.

In particular, pregnant women should be extra cautious as the virus can cause severe malformations in unborn babies. There are a range of different insurance options and any travel plans should be discussed with a doctor.

Most people infected with the virus don't display any symptoms. Around one in five infected patients will suffer nausea, usually for a few days. In some cases, infection can cause fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain.

There are also concerns that in rare instances Zika infection can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a serious immune system disorder.

While there is no specific treatment, just rest and recovery, testing for the virus isn't possible in many developing countries.

The warning, issued on the government's Smartraveller website, hasn't altered the overall level of advice for Indonesia.

There are 49 countries that are listed as having current or recent transmission of the Zika virus.

In March, DFAT issued similar advice for Aussies visiting Thailand. The Zika virus reached Australian shores earlier this year but the risk of infection is quite low.

Fears about the spread of the virus have also been cause for concern ahead of the Summer Olympics in Brazil this August.

DFAT has compiled a bulletin release dedicated to providing information and updates in relation to the spread of the Zika virus.

Picture: Peter Terlato

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