Zika virus from a Pacific perspective: What are the risks to Australians?
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Zika virus (ZIKV) has risen rapidly from relative obscurity to global attention with the World Health Organization declaring it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 1 February 2016 . Much about the virus is still unknown, including whether there is a causal link between ZIKV and the apparent increase in microcephaly and neurological conditions in fetuses and newborn babies. Travel advisories by public health agencies, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016, have focused on the rapidly evolving situation in the Americas . Pacific island countries have also experienced ZIKV outbreaks; many of which are popular Australian tourist destinations and may present a more pertinent risk to Australians. ZIKV activity is currently increasing in the Pacific – since March 2016, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller advisory service has listed New Caledonia and Marshall Islands, in addition to Tonga and Samoa, as countries to which pregnant women should consider postponing their travel or discuss the implications with their doctor.