Brisbane 6th May 2016
There is a possibility that Zika Virus may be introduced into local Australian mosquito populations from some of the competitors that are currently competing at the IVF Va’a World Elite and Sprint Club Championships from the 5th May 2016 to 16th May 2016, on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland according to Dr John Hagidimitriou, author of the upcoming book “The Zika Virus Guidebook”
There is currently a large outbreak of Zika Virus in Brazil, which has since spread to other countries in the Americas and around the world through people travelling. According to Dr John Hagidimitriou, “Zika virus may be introduced into local Australian mosquitoes which may spread the disease from competitors and spectators that attend the IVF Va’a World Elite and Sprint club championships which are currently being held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland”
While researching for “The Zika Virus Guidebook”, Dr Hagidimitriou discovered that one of the initial thoughts researchers initially had as to the origins of Zika Virus into Brazil was the Soccer World Cup Championships that were held in Brazil in 2014.
However, there were no countries that competed in the World Cup in 2014 from the Pacific that were endemic with Zika virus during 2014.
Countries that had outbreaks of Zika Virus in 2014 were the following nations: French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Easter Island. All of these nations were competitors at the Va’a Championships that were held in Brazil in 2014, and Zika Virus may have entered the local mosquito populations of Brazil from these championships.
The concern of Dr John Hagidimitriou is that…..
“As the current event is being held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and Australia has Aedes aegypti mosquito populations which is the mosquito that spreads Zika Virus, these mosquitoes may be vulnerable to becoming infected with Zika if they bite competitors or spectators from countries with current active Zika Virus. This would especially be the case if some of the competitors and spectators travel to parts of Australia where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is found. In this way, Zika Virus could become endemic in Australia.”
Dr Hagidimitriou’s comments are echoed by Dr Didier Musso, a French infectious diseases specialist based in French Polynesia.
Who in a letter to the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal had written the following:
“in August 2014, the Va’a World Sprint Championship canoe race was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Four Pacific countries (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Cook Islands, and Easter Island) in which Zika Virus circulated during 2014 had teams engaged in this contest in several categories. These data combined with phylogenetic studies by Zanluca et al. suggest that Zika Virus introduction in Brazil may have been a consequence of this event.”
Dr Hagidimitriou from TheZikaVirusGuidebook.com suggests that competitors and spectators to the championships ensure that they make use of appropriate mosquito repellants so that they do not inadvertently spread the disease.
Link to the main release is
News Release - Risk of Local Australian Mosquitoes from Zika Virus