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Zika Reaches Bali: Travel Warning Issued For Indonesia

DFAT is urging Aussie travellers to avoid the tourist hotspot.

Aussies are being urged to reconsider plans to travel to Indonesia after the country has experienced “sporadic transmission” of the Zika virus in the tourist hotspot.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have urged people to exercise a “high degree of caution” when travelling to Indonesia.

“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 the travel doctor and consider postponing travel to Indonesia,” the department issued in a statement.

Despite the warning, Travel Doctors’ medical director, Jennifer Sisson tells NT News that while the government’s warning is serious, the risk at this stage is relatively low.

“Sporadic transmission means from time to time there is a case but it’s certainly not an outbreak like Brazil,” she said of the mosquito-borne virus.

That said, pregnant women, or women hoping to conceive, are advised to avoid countries affected wherever possible.

“We certainly know that exposure in the first trimester can be very severe (in terms of birth defects like microcephaly),” Dr Sisson said.

“We are just trying to work out if it applies to the whole of pregnancy but at this stage we don’t differentiate and provide the same advice for women at any stage of pregnancy.”

49 countries including Fiji, Vietnam, Brazil and Samoa are now listed as having “current or recent transmission” of the virus.

This news comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced plans to start a small clinical trial of the first experimental Zika vaccine on humans in the coming weeks.

The Washington Post reports that Inovio Pharmaceuticals will conduct tests on 40 healthy humans with results expected later this year.

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