Nine New Zealanders have Zika virus following travel to South Pacific

A poster with information about the Zika virus at the maternity ward of a hospital in Guatemala City on Jan 28.
A poster with information about the Zika virus at the maternity ward of a hospital in Guatemala City on Jan 28. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON - Nine New Zealanders have contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus with one man hospitalised with the illness, the Ministry of Health said Friday (Jan 29).

All nine had recently arrived from places in the South Pacific, with four from Tonga, four from Samoa and one yet to be reported, said a statement from the ministry which has extended its Pacific travel advice on the Zika virus to include Tonga as well as Samoa as an area of active transmission.

Eight of the travellers had recovered, but a 47-year old man had been admitted to hospital in Hamilton, in the upper North Island, with symptoms indicative of Guillain-Barre, a condition that can potentially cause paralysis, and remains in a stable condition, Xinhua news agency reported

 
 

"We will be providing advice to incoming travellers and the Ministry is updating its information for health professionals. There remains robust mosquito surveillance and monitoring at our borders," said chief medical officer, Dr Don Mackie, in a statement.

Health messaging advising travellers on what to do should they get sick within a month of returning to New Zealand is displayed at all of New Zealand's international airports and the information is made available in a health advice card, Dr Mackie added. In 2014, there were 57 Zika notifications, and last year there were six.

The notifications were published as the World Health Organization announced it will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika to assess whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.