2nd pregnant woman in Australia with Zika virus

A worker fumigating inside a school to help control the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Caracas, on Feb 5, 2016.
A worker fumigating inside a school to help control the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Caracas, on Feb 5, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE (AFP) - A second pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Australia, officials said Friday (Feb 12), adding that the disease was acquired overseas and there was no public health risk.

The confirmation comes after a pregnant woman in the northern state of Queensland was diagnosed on Tuesday with the virus suspected of causing a surge in brain-damaged babies in Brazil.

The latest case involves a woman from the state of Victoria who was going through an "extremely anxious" time, the southern state's Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

 
 

"A Victorian woman has been diagnosed this week with the Zika virus after recently returning from a country where the Zika virus is prevalent. This woman is pregnant," she said.

"The Zika virus is not present in Australian mosquitoes and there is no risk to the community that this condition will be passed on.

"However, we are advising all people, particularly pregnant women, to avoid travelling to those countries where there have been Zika outbreaks."

Three cases of the virus have been confirmed in Queensland state this year, and two in neighbouring New South Wales.

None of the cases in Australia of Zika, which normally causes relatively mild flu-like symptoms and a rash, were locally acquired.

Scientists suspect that when Zika strikes a pregnant woman, it can cause her foetus to develop microcephaly - a condition that causes the baby to be born with an abnormally small head. There is currently no cure or vaccine.