SINGAPORE: Australia has issued a travel advisory urging its citizens to protect themselves from mosquito bites while travelling in Indonesia, citing fears of the Zika virus.
In its latest health travel advisory, the authorities in Canberra said that Indonesia is experiencing a sporadic transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
“We continue to advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” the government advisory said.
“Given the possibility that Zika virus can cause severe malformations in unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should discuss any travel plans with their travel doctor and consider postponing travel to Indonesia.”
The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been shown to attack fetal brain cells and cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size and underdeveloped brains.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly came to light in late 2015 in Brazil, which has confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly it considers to be related to Zika infections in mothers.
Indonesia diagnosed its first Zika case in January when a 27-year-old man in Sumatra tested positive for the virus, despite having never travelled overseas.
Earlier this month, a 22-year-old sailor from East Java reportedly arrived in Taiwan with symptoms including fever and red eyes. He was subsequently diagnosed with Zika.
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