This ‘global emergency’ is now far too close to home 39



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This morning, the World Health Organisation has officially declared the outbreak of the Zika virus a global health emergency, following a late-night meeting in Geneva.

The WHO was criticised for not acting quickly enough on the ebola virus and has vowed not to make the same mistake again, the ABC reports. Last week, the agency said the mosquito-borne disease believed to be responsible for a spate of birth defects, was “spreading explosively” and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas.

Four days ago, Fairfax reported that that chance of the disease reaching Australia was highly likely, and with reports today of an Australian man contracting the disease in Bali, that outcome seems imminent.

The Daily Mail reports that a 27-year-old Australian is believed to have contracted the disease after being bitten by a monkey on the Indonesian island. He presented at the Royal Darwin Hospital sometime before May 2015.

Australian health authorities have admitted that the disease is one of several tropical diseases that could come into Australia via the Torres Strait.

We’ll monitor closely through the Torres Strait. That would possibly be one path of entry into Queensland,” said Queensland’s Health Minister Cameron Dick.

Although the risk of severe illness from the Zika virus is unlikely, with up to 80 per cent of people infected not even knowing they have the disease, the real risk is that when mosquitoes bite infected people, they can spread the disease to others, and anyone who becomes pregnant within two years risks birth defects.

Brazil has reported almost 4000 suspected cases of microcephaly, where babies are born with smaller-than-usual brains. The health ministry has linked the condition to Zika, although the connection is not yet confirmed.

Mr Dick said Australia may need to consider a co-ordinated, federal response to combat the disease. At this stage there is no recommendation for trade or travel restrictions to areas worst affected, although women of child-bearing age are advised to reconsider their travel.


What concerns you most about this disease? Will it affect your travel plans?

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  1. I live in tropical Queensland so it looks like I don’t have to travel, this disease will probably come to me. Not good.

    3 REPLY
  2. It is frightening how many serious diseases are threatening life and health worldwide. With people travelling the risk of diseases being imported is very high. We can’t afford to assume our relative isolation will always protect us.

  3. Yes of course,its time councils went out and sprayed where they breed and everyone take precautions

    1 REPLY
    • That would be a good idea. Mosquitos though can breed in tiny amounts of water. We all need to be vigilant about leaving water sitting around. I found mosquito larvae in my horses’ water troughs so I went to the local pet shop and bought several dozen small goldfish. They are thriving and we no longer have mosquito larvae.

  4. Yes very much so. Our sons and wives are looking forward to either starting or expanding their families within the next year. This virus is certainly a huge concern if it reaches our coast.

  5. something to take the focus off our water issues. like how this shit pops up every time they want some thing else to go away.

  6. What we need to keep in mind is that the link between this disease and birth defects is unconfirmed science. Mossies, along with other insects and animals can and do carry diseases. We take precautions to protect ourselves from this and think little more about it. Words such as “Global Emergency” certainly get our attention but as is often the case the dangers associated are preventable and with proper and professional management the problem is overcome.

  7. Have you seen the state some of these towns are in over there.
    They streets are full of rubbish and filth.
    The government has a responsibility to do something, but the residents also have a responsibility to do something.
    The country is spending billions on the Olympic games. Some of this money should be diverted to cleaning up their own backyard and making it safe for their residents.

  8. Cairns & Townsville councils have already been doing trials of genetically modified Mosquitos to control Dengue fever, this should help as it’s the same mozzie. There are certainly fewer around this season. I have heard that there have been 6 cases diagnosed in the country so far but none are locally contracted – i.e. They have all come from travellers returning.

  9. I would be concerned if there was anyone I knew who was pregnant, particularly with the hot humid conditions that most populated parts of Australia are currently experiencing. For myself no, as I gather the experience of the illness is little worse than a mild dose of flu. What we need to consider from these successive waves of disease is whether the planet if finally fighting back against over-population by one species (us), to the detriment of other species.

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