Zika virus

Dec 15, 2020 | National Outbreaks | 0 comments

Zika Virus: No threat for travellers to South Africa

Updated: 12 April 2017

Zika Virus: No threat for travellers to South Africa

Travellers to South Africa

There has been no local transmission of Zika virus in South Africa to date. Zika virus has not been found in Southern Africa to date. There is no threat to travellers to South Africa. Zika virus has been confirmed in South Africa in a small number of travellers from areas where Zika circulation has been well documented, notably Brazil and Columbia. Diagnostic testing for Zika virus is available at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg.


Zika virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in Uganda in 1947 and from humans in Nigeria in 1968. Zika virus is transmitted to humans by certain daytime-active Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that also transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses in the urban setting.


Symptoms of Zika fever are usually mild and include an acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, conjunctivitis, myalgia and headache. About 1 in 4 infected persons are symptomatic. Symptoms are self-limited and may persist for 2-7 days. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is rare and to date, no deaths due to Zika have been reported.


Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks were intermittently reported in a narrow equatorial band extending from Central Africa through Southeast Asia to the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Since then, 18 countries in the Americas have confirmed autochthonous circulation of Zika virus. 


Congential anomalies

Research evidence to date would support the likely association between Zika infection and microcephaly and neurological pathology in the foetus and newborn.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization acknowledged an increase of congenital anomalies, Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neurological and autoimmune syndromes in areas where Zika virus is currently circulating.

Personal protection

Personal protection to avoid mosquito bites is essential for travellers visiting areas where the Zika virus is circulating. As a further precaution, pregnant women should delay travel to areas with current Zika virus transmission.

Source: Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, NICD-NHLS; (outbreak@nicd.ac.za)

Updated: 12 April 2017

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