Health authorities in South Australia have issued a public warning after confirmation of a confirmed the first case of the Zika virus in the state.

SA Health Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the man, who has recovered, acquired the virus overseas and there was no risk to the public because the mosquito that spreads the virus is not in South Australia.

“Lab results confirmed a man in South Australia has tested positive to the Zika virus following a recent trip overseas,” Prof Phillips said.  “By taking simple precautions, travellers can reduce the risk of other mosquito borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever which can be very severe and even fatal.

“Countries within the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and South America are known to have Zika virus transmission.  Any South Australian intending to travel to one of these areas should read advice on the Smartraveller website.”

He urged South Australians to reduce the risk of mosquito bites when travelling overseas by wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and trousers and using an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin, to reduce the risk of diseases including malaria and dengue fever.

While primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, it is now believed the disease can also be transmitted by infected men to their sexual partners.  The infection can also spread from pregnant women to their unborn babies and has been linked to birth defects.  Thousands of cases in Brazil are being blamed on the virus following a rise in confirmed cases in the area.

The World Health Organsiation declared the Zika virus as public health emergency on February 1.

Image source: Getty Images

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