11 ways to prevent Zika in Bali
There has been a lot in the media in the past year or two about the spread of the dangerous Zika virus and people are wondering if they can catch the Zika virus in Bali.
In South America the Zika virus has been responsible for an increase in babies born with microcephaly, a condition where the baby’s head is considerably smaller in size than expected due to abnormal brain development.
But what is the reality of the Zika virus in Bali, Indonesia- is it the same strain of Zika, how prevalent is it and are the residents avoiding pregnancy? This guide will tell you all you need to know about the Zika virus in Bali and Indonesia, including proven ways to reduce your risk of catching it.
After you have read this guide do check out our complete library of Bali travel blog posts, including the best places to stay in Bali, where to avoid, how to stay safe and the best Bali activities. You should also read our safety post about earthquakes and the tsunami risk in Bali.
What is the Zika Virus and what are the Zika Virus symptoms?
The Zika virus is a condition spread by the Aedes mosquito. Zika virus symptoms include rash, fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and headaches. Zika virus symptoms are usually mild if present and most people do not develop symptoms- if they do develop it is usually two to seven days after being bitten. The Zika virus is present in Bali, Indonesia.
How do you catch the Zika virus?
You can catch the Zika virus in the following ways:
- By being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito
- Through sexual transmission
- From having a blood transfusion with infected blood
- By passing it to your baby during pregnancy
The Aedes mosquitos are usually day mosquitos and there are things to do to prevent infection (see How To Prevent Zika below).
What is the risk to pregnant women and babies?
If a pregnant woman catches the Zika virus, her baby can be born with microcephaly. The media has reported on many cases of this Zika virus symptom after an epidemic of the Zika virus in some South American countries.
Women can also pass the Zika virus to their baby if they conceive after catching the Zika virus; children affected by this have become known in the media as ‘Zika babies’.
The official advice to pregnant women is to wait eight weeks after visiting a Zika country to start trying to conceive. However the advice is six months for men as they carry the virus for longer, so if you have travelled to a Zika country together the wait would be six months as a couple if you took the official advice.
The actual percentage of pregnant women who catch Zika and pass it to their babies is very small.
How do you know if you have Zika (Can you test for Zika?)
If you have travelled to a Zika country like Bali, Indonesia and present Zika virus symptoms or you think you may be infected, your doctor can test you for Zika. Even if you have no symptoms, using contraception is recommended for one month after you return from a Zika country to ensure you do not develop symptoms after becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.
Is there Zika Virus in Bali, Indonesia?
Worried about if there is Zika in Bali? The Aedes mosquito that carries the Zika virus is in Bali, Indonesia, but it has been for decades and there haven’t been any cases of Zika related microcephaly reported. There are also small numbers of the mosquito in northern Australia.
Are the residents in Bali worried about the Zika virus?
In short, no. Locals and expats are planning, carrying and having pregnancies as normal. The risk of Zika harming an unborn baby is small and depends largely on when the pregnant woman was infected, so it is up to the individual to decide if they feel comfortable being pregnant while in Bali.
Is Bali safe for pregnancy?
All countries have their own risks; if you are sensible with food, water, mosquito prevention and safe travel methods then there is no reason that a healthy pregnant woman could not travel to Bali. The healthcare in Bali is not comparable to that of the US, UK or other richer countries so ensure you take this into account and get comprehensive health insurance.
How to prevent catching Zika in Bali:
Wear light fabrics that cover as much skin as possible. Loose cotton shirts or kaftans plus harem pants are great options for preventing mosquito bites, especially as the fabrics aren’t tight on the skin (mosquitos can bite through fabric).
There are lots of very strong artificial options but we prefer natural repellants such as Para’Kito deet-free roll-on .
Burn mosquito repellent candles
Use a mosquito plug-in repellant
Bring a travel mosquito net
Drink tonic water
Eat inside at breakfast
Keep time at rice paddies to a minimum
Avoid stagnant water sources
Use mosquito patches
If travelling with children, pick up some mosquito repellant bracelets to help keep mozzies away without spray.
Conclusion on Zika Virus in Bali
Having lived in Bali for a while we are not concerned about the Zika virus. We have not met anyone who lives here who would consider delaying a pregnancy because of the virus, but this is obviously down to personal decision and you should talk to a medical professional before making travel health decisions.
Disclaimer: We are not health professionals and you should always seek specialist medical advise before travelling. We are not responsible for decisions made after reading this article or for their consequences. For more health info to keep your family travels safe check out CPOE.org.
More Useful Bali Travel Info
For more useful info on Bali check out these posts:
- Essential Beginners’ Guide to Bali
- How to extend your Bali visa
- 10 Top Travel Toys For Toddlers
- Best Places To Stay In Bali (and the one place to avoid!)
- The Only Ethical Turtle Sanctuary In Bali (+ How To Visit)
- 5 Luxury Family Villas in Sanur
- 10 Reasons We Moved To Bali
- 5 Cruel Attractions to Avoid In Bali
- Our Budget: What We Spend In One Month In Bali