Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

More cases of Zika virus confirmed in NZ

The two woman caught the mosquito-borne virus after visiting Samoa. Photo / Getty Images
The two woman caught the mosquito-borne virus after visiting Samoa. Photo / Getty Images

Two more cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in New Zealand.

Two Ashburton women, both in their 30s, were confirmed as having it this month after they visited Samoa.

There have now been 48 cases reported in New Zealand this year. The mosquito-borne virus can cause a fever, rash, joint pain and birth defects.

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The latest cases follow North Canterbury woman Piliniuote Fifita, 40, who was diagnosed as having Zika last month after visiting Tonga.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink said women who were pregnant or planning to get pregnant should cancel all travel plans to the areas where an outbreak had been confirmed.

Pink also advised men with pregnant partners to be careful if they travelled to infected places, as the disease could potentially be transmitted by saliva and semen.

"There's a risk, but the most common way the infection is transmitted is via mosquito bite."

Zika has been declared a worldwide epidemic by the World Heath Organisation. It had been confirmed in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands, Puerto Rico and Brazil.

Brazil is an epicenter of Zika, and fears about the virus could scare fans and some athletes from going to the South American country's first Olympics. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and sports authorities preparing for hundreds of thousands of visitors to the country have said the Games will be held as scheduled in August.

- NZ Herald

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