A vacuum tube holds a blood-fed strain of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmits Zika virus) in place under a microscope in a research lab.
A vacuum tube holds a blood-fed strain of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmits Zika virus) in place under a microscope in a research lab. Jeff Miller

ZIKA INFECTION: Patient diagnosed in regional Queensland

A CONTAGIOUS mosquito-borne virus which hit headlines around the world in 2015 has been detected in the Mackay region.

A man was recently diagnosed with the Zika virus at Mackay Hospital and Health Service following a holiday to Cuba, Queensland Health has confirmed.

But an initial misdiagnosis resulted in a delay in diagnosis.


Mackay Base Hospital.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service has reported a Zika virus diagnosis. MHHS

The latest case comes after a traveller was diagnosed with Zika at MHHS in mid-2016, following a trip to Mexico.

Townsville Public Health Unit took the lead on the latest Mackay case, said the unit's director Doctor Steven Donohue.

"This person got sick late October and turned up from overseas via Brisbane and Sunshine Coast into Mackay on or about October 28," he said.

"There was a little of a delay getting the results with this guy, because the initial doctor didn't do the correct test and it was only afterwards that we realised we had this.

"But we still went to see his place to make sure it was okay (clear) for mosquitoes.

"When you've got a traveller coming back with an acute febrile illness, it could be one of dozens of things."


Townsville Public Health Unit director Doctor Steven Donohue.
Townsville Public Health Unit director Doctor Steven Donohue. Contributed

Dr Donohue said a blood test (or "antibody test") was initially performed, but not a test for Zika itself.

He emphasised there's been no local transmission of Zika in Queensland identified to date, and little risk surrounding the latest patient's arrival home.

"We're particularly careful about Zika. We don't want this thing to spread in Australia by any means," he said.

Dr Donohue added the "initial wave of outbreaks" of Zika had settled down globally, "in which case it might only be a few years before Zika makes a comeback."

The Zika virus attracted global media coverage in 2015 as an epidemic spread across more than 50 countries and territories, before the World Health Organisation declared the crisis over in November, 2016.

Zika virus can cause a short illness similar to dengue fever, which includes a rash, fever, headaches, sore joints and muscles, lasting up to a week.


FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 12, 2016 file photo, Lara, who is less then 3-months old and was born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil. On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there's enough evidence now to declare that the Zika virus during the mother's pregnancy causes the microcephaly birth defect and other brain abnormalities. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
This photo from February 12, 2016 shows a girl born with microcephaly, caused by the Zika virus during the mother's pregnancy. Felipe Dana

However, Zika can spread from pregnant woman to their babies and result in microcephaly and a range of other birth defects.

Anyone with the symptoms described should immediately visit a doctor for testing.

Queensland Health warns travellers to seek advice about the public health risks of any country they plan to visit.

It advises travellers to the Asia-Pacific should take particular precautions and use insect repellant to prevent the potential transmission of the Zika virus.

Zika virus is spread by the same mosquito that can carry dengue fever, the Aedes aegypti.