The Australian Government has upgraded their travel advice warning to Bali over fears of the Zika virus.

Couples planning a babymoon, a family getaway or a honeymoon to Indonesia might want to rethink their travel plans after the government warned that the popular tourist destination is the latest country where the devastating Zika virus has shown up.

Indonesia is experiencing “sporadic transmission” of the virus and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)  has warned Australian travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites, with pregnant women told to re-think any future visits.

The mosquito-born virus, which is linked to serious birth defects, is currently running rampant in South America, while it’s also prevalent in Fiji, Vietnam and Samoa.

DFAT has wanted of the Zika virus. Via Getty.

As the virus spreads throughout the world, the US Centre for Disease Control confirmed last week that three women have given birth to children with Zika-related birth defects in the U.S. and three others have lost or terminated their pregnancies because of links to the virus.

The DFAT advice to Australian travellers has frightened many women planning on travelling to Indonesia - a popular destination for honeymooners and so called 'babymooners'.

“Given the possibility that Zika virus can cause severe malformations in unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should discuss any travel plans with the travel doctor and consider postponing travel to Indonesia,” the department’s advice reads.

Australians travelling to Indonesia, including Bali, have been told to exercise a “high degree of caution”.

The warning advises all travellers to Indonesia to “protect themselves from mosquito bites”.

The mosquito-born virus, which is linked to serious birth defects. Via IStock.

The Zika virus was first discovered back in 1947 in monkeys, getting its name from the Zika Forest in Uganda where it was found. The first reported cases of Zika started to emerge in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

A total of 49 countries are now listed as having current or recent transmission of the Zika virus, including Fiji, Vietnam, Brazil and Samoa.

Dr Jennifer Sisson, the Travel Doctors’ Medical Director Perth and Canberra told News Limited said while the risk was low pregnant women really should avoid the non-essential travel to Indonesia.

“Sporadic transmission means from time to time there is a case but it’s certainly not an outbreak like Brazil.”

“We certainly know that exposure in the first trimester can be very severe (in terms of birth defects like microcephaly),” Dr Sisson said.

“We are just trying to work out if it applies to the whole of pregnancy but at this stage we don’t differentiate and provide the same advice for women at any stage of pregnancy.”

Women are questioning whether to travel. Via IStock.

On the travel site Trip Advisor nervous women have taken to the Bali forums to question each other on whether or not to travel:

“I will be 25 weeks (26 weeks on the returning date). We're in dilemma whether we should go. My husband is very worried about the air circulation, virus & mosquitos” wrote one.

Another: “ I am due to travel to North Sulawesi in 2 weeks time and will be 16 weeks when I travel. Have just seen that Smart Traveller has put out an update about Zika in Indonesia saying there is sporadic transmission of it throughout Indonesia. I am feeling a bit anxious about things and unsure whether or not I should be travelling there.”


Travellers have questioned whether or not they would be covered by travel insurance if they cancel their impending honeymoons and 'babymoons'.

Travel site "Compare Travel Insurance" noted that many airlines and three cruise ship companies have changed their refund or credit policies due to the virus.

"Be warned that travel insurance will generally not cover pandemics, particularly after official travel warnings have been released.  That means that any regions that are currently affected by the Zika virus (as listed on the Smart Traveller website) will not be covered under your policy. However, if you purchased travel insurance before the warnings were issued, you may be covered.

Men should heed the warnings as well. Via Getty.

It is not just women who should be concerned.

Fathers-to-be should note that Zika has been found in the semen of men for quite long periods after the disease has stopped causing symptoms. Tropical health expert, Peter Leggat from James Cook University in Townsville told News Limited that men are recommended to practice safe sex for six months after infection.

The Centre for Disease Control states that people usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Meaning people might not realise they have been infected.

A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

They say there is still much we don’t know about Zika. It is unknown if men with Zika who never develop symptoms have the virus in their semen or if they can pass Zika through sex, whether a woman with Zika can pass the virus to her sex partners, and whether Zika can be passed through vaginal fluids during vaginal or oral (mouth-to-vagina) sex or through saliva during kissing. They aren't even sure if Zika can be passed through saliva during kissing.

While Australians are prolific travellers and pregnant women can take as many precautions as possible, those planning on travelling to the region would be wise to speak to their doctor and heed any advice given by DFAT.

To read the updated travel advice go to the DFAT website Smart Traveller.

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