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Positive Zika test in Queensland raises fears

rockhampton
ABC
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Authorities are door-knocking homes in Rockhampton in central Queensland where a man has tested positive to having Zika virus, as preventative spraying continues.

The infected man recently returned from a trip to South America. Queensland Health said the man had been staying at the Globe Hotel in the Rockhampton suburb of Depot Hill.

Local species of mosquitos capable of carrying Zika, Aedes aegypti, were breeding in that area, the department said.

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Queensland’s acting chief health officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, said yesterday that Zika virus, like dengue, could be spread if an Aedes aegypti mosquito bit an infected person, was then itself infected, and then went on to bite another person.

Authorities said spraying operations were continuing around the Globe Hotel today as a precaution, and they were also doorknocking nearby homes and businesses that might be affected by the operation.

Rockhampton Council’s health and compliance committee chairwoman Ellen Smith said the mosquito could be breeding in local backyards.

“Please clean up your backyards, get rid of excess water,” she said.

On Wednesday, acting chief health officer Dr Sonya Bennett said homes and businesses outside of the area near the hotel were at a reduced risk because the Aedes aegypti mosquito was not known to fly very far.

She said if anyone in the Depot Hill area experienced symptoms that could be related to Zika virus in the next two weeks, they should contact their local GP.

Zika virus can cause a short illness similar to dengue fever and has similar symptoms.

Dr Bennett said concerned pregnant women around Depot Hill could visit their GP to discuss testing options.

Zika is a mosquito-borne illness that has surged through Latin America and has been linked to birth defects in children in the region.

However, a four-year survey in Brazil suggested Zika may not be the cause of microcephaly, which results in babies being born with abnormally small heads.

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