A new medical paper in Lancet Infectious Diseases has highlighted some of the countries at the highest risk for a major Zika virus outbreak. The study looked at air traffic between countries in the Americas, where Zika is already established, and places in Africa and Asia where the Aedes mosquitoes, the mosquitoes that can spread Zika, are most prevalent. The study also took other factors into account such as seasonality of transmission, population density, and economics to come up with a “hit list” of countries where Zika could potentially have the biggest impact.
Countries with larger volumes of travellers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas and large populations at risk include:
- India (67,422 travellers arriving per year; 1.2 billion residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- China (23,8415 travellers arriving per year; 242 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- Indonesia (13,865 travellers arriving per year; 197 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- The Philippines (35,635 travellers arriving per year; 70 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- Thailand (29,241 travellers arriving per year; 59 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas).
Of the countries with the largest at risk populations, the authors suggested that India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh might be most vulnerable to impact because of their limited per capita health resources.
Dr Richard Dawood, Medical Director and co-founder of the Fleet Street Clinic, discussed the paper with one of its authors, as well as the current situation faced by travellers, on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC2 on 2nd September.
“We have always known Zika could spread everywhere Aedes mosquitoes abound,” Dr Dawood told the programme. “This study tells us about the seasonality of risk of spread, and when/where it might take root, but does not model travel/risk of spread within Africa or Asia – so more studies are still needed.”
The study’s publication coincided with the arrival of Zika in Singapore – a major hub for Asian travel and Malaysia, with clear implications for further spread. With this news came the new evidence that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are capable of passing the infection on to their offspring.
There is currently no vaccination available for the Zika Virus. If you have any questions and would like some more information and advice, please contact the Fleet Street Clinic on 020 7353 5678 or you can book a travel consultation appointment.