The chances of pregnant women getting Zika where mosquitoes potentially carrying the virus are being sprayed in central Queensland is “very, very low”, the state’s health body says.
A man, who tested positive to Zika after recently returning from South America, spent time at the Globe Hotel in the Rockhampton suburb of Depot Hill, where potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, have been found.
Queensland’s acting chief health officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, said she understood local pregnant women would be concerned given the virus had been linked to microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads.
“We would like to assure pregnant women that the risk of them getting Zika in that affected area is very, very low,” she said.
“But if they are concerned … or they become unwell they should visit their GP to discuss testing.”
Those spraying the mosquitoes would also doorknock to talk to women in the area who may have concerns, she said.
The man who tested positive for Zika returned from South America on February 15 and became unwell on the same day.
He was confirmed as having the virus on Wednesday, two days after he presented to his doctor for testing.
Dr Bennett said while it was possible he had been bitten by a mosquito before he was told to stay indoors, the chances of Zika becoming established in the mosquito population around the hotel were “almost nil”.
Mosquitoes within a 200m radius of the hotel are being sprayed as Aedes aegypti don’t travel far.
Dr Bennett was unable to confirm whether the man, reportedly a FIFO worker, had left the country but said he would no longer have the virus in his blood.
Meanwhile, the state government has announced all Queenslanders undergoing dengue fever testing will also automatically be tested for Zika virus as of Monday.
“Both diseases are carried by the same mosquito and testing for dengue and Zika at the same time is smart science,” Health Minister Cameron Dick said.
Dr Bennett urged anyone in the Rockhampton area who was feeling unwell to visit their GP given there was a small window where a mosquito may have become infected and bitten someone else.
Symptoms of Zika, which is milder than dengue, include fever, headache, sore red eye, rash, tiredness and aches and pains.