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TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR TRAVELLERS TO COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY ZIKA VIRUS

07 February 2016

Background

  • Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus closely related to dengue virus. It was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in Zika forest, Uganda in 1947, in mosquitoes (Aedes africanus) in the same forest in 1948 and in humans in Nigeria in 1954.
  • Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • In May 2015, the WHO Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. In December 2015, the Ministry of Health, Brazil reported a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of microcephaly of unknown cause in areas affected by Zika virus outbreak.
  • As at 29 January 2016, WHO reported outbreaks of Zika virus in 25 countries*: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil,  Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana,  Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico,  Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, Samoa, Costa Rica and Jamaica
  • Note: The list of countries will be updated from time to time as per WHO report. 

Key facts

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • It causes low grade fever (less than 38.5°C) and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis.
  • These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days
  • The disease has similar clinical signs to dengue, and may be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
  • Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes and minimizing contact between mosquito vectors and people by using barriers (such as repellents, insect screens), reducing water-filled habitats supporting mosquito larvae in and close to dwellings, and reducing the adult mosquito populations around at-risk communities.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific

Health Advisory:

Based on the current available information WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions to Zika virus affected countries. Given the current global situation of Zika virus infections, the Ministry of Health, Malaysia would like to advise the public who wish to visit  countries affected by the Zika virus to take the same precautionary measures used to prevent dengue to minimize risk of infection of Zika virus as follows; 

1.  Prevent mosquito bites by;

§    covering skin with long-sleeve clothing, trousers and hats,

§    use insect repellents on exposed body surfaces,

§    sleep protected by mosquito nets,                                                                                     

2. Avoid doing outdoor activities during peak biting times of the Aedes mosquitoes, i.e. a       few hours after dawn and before dusk.

3. Individuals travelling in or returning from Zika virus affected countries* presenting with   the following symptoms within 7 days of travel, should seek medical advice              immediately and inform the attending doctor of their travel history;

§     fever

§     skin rash (exanthema),

§     muscle or joint pain,

§     malaise,

§    headache,  and

§    conjunctivitis (red eye),

As a precautionary measure, the Ministry of Health would like to advise pregnant women, especially those in the first trimester, to postpone their trip to Brazil until the cause of microcephaly events associated with Zika virus infection in the country can be identified. MOH would like to emphasize that the public should continue the “search and destroy” activities to reduce the breeding places of Aedes mosquitoes in their homes and surroundings. These precautions do not only reduce the risk of Zika virus infection but also dengue fever.

Prepared by:

Disease Control Division

Ministry of Health Malaysia

29 January 2016



Zika Virus

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