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Zika Virus – What’s the Buzz?


If you’ve read the paper, watched television or consumed any social media in recent weeks, chances are you would have heard of the Zika virus (ZIKV) and its fast growing spread across the world.

But how does the heightened awareness of the Zika virus relate back to financial wellbeing? And why are we writing a blog post on it? Well, allow us to present some facts and figures within this article to point out the relevance of this current affair and its link to your financial security – more specifically, insurance.

What is it?

Since 2015, the Zika virus has spread rapidly to a number of countries, particularly in the Americas. It is known to be transmitted by mosquitoes and people planning travel around the world are advised to check whether the country they are planning to visit has active Zika virus transmission.

Most infected people have no symptoms or experience only a mild illness but the virus has been linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which infants are born with undersized heads.

Key facts

  • A mosquito-borne disease
  • Transmission has been confirmed by various scenarios. Predominantly by the bite.
  • Usually no symptoms
  • One in every five cases, infection causes an illness with fever, rash, conjunctivitis, severe headache and muscle pain
  • Transmission of the virus is usually not severe or require hospitalisation
  • Outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands
  • All cases in Australia have been a result from travelling overseas
  • No specific treatment or vaccine currently available
  • Best form of prevention is of course avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes in impacted countries
  • Pregnant women who get ZIKV, may have birth defects in their offspring, including a serious condition known as microcephaly.  Studies on this are required and evolving.

Zika virus infection is diagnosed through:

  • medical history, including a travel history to look for any exposure in a country with active Zika transmission in the two weeks prior to illness
  • physical examination, to look for evidence of the infection
  • blood tests

Is it in Australia?

Currently, 23 cases have already been identified in Australia.  The World Health Organisation has officially declared this virus as a world health emergency.

Recent news stories have reported that while people have tested positive for the Zika virus in Australia, there was no risk to the public as the virus was not be transmitted person to person and was not present in Australian mosquitoes.

A recent ninemsn article confirmed the breed of mosquito capable of carrying the Zika virus has been found at Brisbane’s international airport seven times in the past year.

But what’s the link to my financial wellbeing?

Given this virus is all over the news, we thought it would be a good idea to investigate how it is relevant to one’s insurances. Basically, we expect that through the insurance application process, insurers will increase questions surrounding your previous or intended travel and any potential relationship or links to this virus.

Should the unthinkable happen and your or a member of your family get struck down by this virus, you need to make sure you have appropriate insurance in place to cover all sorts of outcomes.

Why is it important to review my insurance now – Including Child Trauma cover?

This virus has the potential to increase liabilities on insurer’s books, specifically for claims pertaining to consequences of contracting the virus and more specifically if your offspring is affected by microcephaly.

Insurance has always been an important part of client’s long term financial wellbeing, however more specifically, Child Trauma cover has never been so important with many consumers unaware of its existence.

The cover provides financial support should the unforeseen happen to your children and most importantly, it helps with any financial stress, to provide choices to aid in your child’s recovery.

Many insurance providers include child cover options allowing cover for children to be added to any Death, TPD, or Trauma cover taken out by the parent(s).

What does it mean?

If either you or your partner become exposed and this exposure is evidenced through your medical history, the policy terms offered to you may include an exclusion.

What next?

For the most up to date information on countries experiencing active Zika virus transmission, stay tuned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smartraveller website.

In terms of making sure you and your family are protected or to check the clauses in your own insurance policy, contact your Financial Planner to discuss your personal insurance plan.



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