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What to tell your patients who are travelling to Brazil

What to tell your patients who are travelling to Rio - Featured Image

With the Olympic Games in Brazil starting in less than a month, Australia’s retiring Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley has released some important health messages for spectators travelling to the Games.

Brazil is experiencing a Zika virus outbreak and there is also the presence of other mosquito-borne diseases including yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya.

The vaccine for yellow fever should be given at least 10 days before travellers arrive in Brazil. Travellers should be aware that many countries, including Australia, need proof of yellow fever vaccination before they allow entry so they should ensure they have their yellow fever certificate when they travel.

GPs are being urged to ensure patients are made aware of the risks involved in visiting Brazil, particularly women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnancy as Zika virus can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly.

Women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant should defer travel to Zika affected areas including Brazil.

Related: Protection of Olympian proportions

For those who aren’t pregnant or seeking pregnancy, they should take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Ensure there are fly screens or air conditioning at accommodation.
  •  If the accommodation doesn’t have those options, sleep under a mosquito net.

Regarding the sexual transmission of Zika virus, travellers should be advised:

  • Men who travel to Brazil and who have a pregnant partner should abstain from sex or use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • For couples planning pregnancy and travelling to the Games, it’s recommended women wait at least 8 weeks for attempting pregnancy. If the woman’s partner travelled with her and contracts Zika, they might have to wait 6 months before trying for pregnancy.
  • Men travelling to a Zika affected area should avoid unprotected sex for 8 weeks after returning.

GPs are encouraged to display this poster in their practice and give this brochure to patients travelling to the Games. This information is designed to inform travellers on how they can reduce the risks of contracting Zika virus, get travellers thinking about yellow fever vaccination, and instruct travellers on how they can protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness.

To obtain hard copies of either the brochure or the poster, please email humanquarantine@health.gov.au with your details and quantity needed and they will be mailed out. More information is available on the Department’s website at health.gov.au/rio2016 or email humanquarantine@health.gov.au.

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