Aucklanders are being warned that the threat of Zika is already impacting on their health.
Photo: SuppliedIt comes as New Zealanders are getting a taste of what it’s like to be pregnant and to be a parent again.
A new report from the New Zealand Council of Health and Human Services (NZCHHS) says more than half of all babies born in New Zealand are now at risk of being affected by Zika.
The study also found that almost a quarter of New Zealand families are now dealing with a maternal or newborn infection and the numbers are expected to rise in coming months.
New Zealand is the only country in the world to have confirmed Zika outbreaks.
The council says more people are going to need to be tested and monitored for infection because of the current outbreak.
“The public health response needs to be stepped up and the response needs be made to meet the needs of those who are at increased risk of contracting Zika virus,” NZCHHS chief executive, Sue Smith, said.
“It’s an ongoing challenge but it’s a critical one and we need to work with our partners to do that.”
Zika has been linked to a number of serious illnesses, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Guillani Syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Duchenniomyelitis.
There is a high risk of serious complications for babies born to mothers who have travelled to countries where Zika is spreading.
The New Zealand government has promised to provide funding for new testing kits for babies and to improve access to them.
The report found that while the number of new cases has decreased in recent months, it is still high.
New York State reported about 1,700 new Zika cases in August, the same as in July.
New South Wales reported about 6,600 new cases in September, which was about half the number in August.
The health minister says the state will not be able to stop the spread of Zika until it is completely contained.
In the meantime, the government has increased its response to the outbreak.
More than 30,000 health workers, volunteers, volunteers and local authorities have been deployed in areas affected by the outbreak to assist with the containment and control efforts.
The National Health and Medical Research Council says the numbers of cases are still being counted but have so far dropped to about 1.6 million.
In its report, the council said it is working to increase the number and intensity of efforts in areas where Zika has been detected.
It is encouraging New Zealand to implement its international commitments to reduce the number, severity and duration of cases of Zika in order to reduce potential long-term risks to the country.
“While we recognise the need to implement measures that are tailored to the current situation in New South Wales and other jurisdictions, we also recognise the importance of New Zealander communities being prepared to take this on and do their part to reduce further transmission and transmission risk,” the council wrote.
“New Zealanders have a moral and ethical responsibility to help keep the country safe from Zika.”
It’s the second outbreak to hit New Zealand in the past six months.
In December, the New South Welsh Government reported about 400 new cases.