Treated with Zika virus in NZ after returning from Tonga

(Cate Broughton/Stuff) The Zika virus was an unwelcome memento from a Canterbury woman’s Tongan homeland holiday.

Piliniuote Fifita, 40, is the second person to be hospitalised with the Zika virus in New Zealand this year. She has recovered, but is worried for her family in Tonga where the virus has been declared an epidemic.

Fifita, who has four teenage children, said she had no plans to add to that number. She was thankful she was not pregnant, after reading of the virus’ links with severe birth defects.

She has lived in New Zealand for 17 years and had returned home for a holiday with her family for the first time in 10 years on December 22.

A week after arriving back in New Zealand on January 15, the symptoms began with a red eye.

“I had a red eye and rashes on my head. I was very itchy.”

The following day, the rash extended over her body and she began experiencing joint pain in her feet, ankles, hands, wrists and elbows.

“I could hardly lift anything, they were very sore.”

Concerned at the unusual symptoms and unable to walk, Fifita’s husband took her to the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital.

At first staff told her she may have contracted Dengue fever while in Tonga, but a doctor said it was more likely she had the Zika virus.

Fifita said she had never heard of Zika before and became alarmed after researching it on the internet.

“It got me worried because all the symptoms were the same.”

She was discharged from hospital the following day.

When the diagnosis was confirmed a week later, Fifita said it was not a surprise.

While in Tonga, the family was bitten numerous times by mosquitoes and relied on mosquito coils for protection, Fifita said.

“Next time we will take nets, insect repellent, wear light-coloured clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.”

Her main concern was with her family in Tonga.

“I’ve been encouraging them to keep containers of water empty and clean, and even to use insecticides.”

There have been 11 cases of Zika virus in New Zealand this year, as of February 4.

A 47-year-old man was admitted to Waikato Hospital with symptoms indicative of Guillain-Barre, a condition linked to the Zika virus, after returning to New Zealand from Tonga on January 15.

Most people who get infected with the virus do not show any symptoms and only one in five people who get it feel sick.

Symptoms appear 3-12 days after getting the infection and last from 4-7 days.

The Ministry of Health is recommending women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near term consider delaying travel to areas with Zika virus present.

1 COMMENT

  1. Naʻe fakatokoto fale mahaki ‘i Nu’u Sila ni ha fefine Tonga ta’u 40 ko Piliniuote Fifita ‘o faito’o ko hano ma’u ‘e he vailasi zika hili haʻane foki mai mei Tonga.

    Kuo mo’ui hono faito’ó ka ʻokú ne hohaʻa ki hono fāmili ʻi Tongá hili atu ʻeni ʻa hono toki fakahā kuo kuo tō e toʻumahaki zika ai.

    ʻOku toko fā e fānau ʻa Fifitá ka ʻokú ne fakamālōʻia pe he ʻikai ke toe feitama lolotonga hono maʻu ia ʻe he zika hili ia ʻene mahino ko kinautolu ngaahi faʻē ʻoku feitama ka ʻoku maʻu ʻe he zika ʻe tupu faingataʻaʻia fakasino mai ʻenau pēpeé.

    Ko e taʻu ʻeni e 17 nofo Nuʻu Sila ʻa Fifita pea ko ʻene toki folau mālōlō atu e ki Tonga mo hono fāmilí he ʻaho 22 Tīsemá ʻo maʻu ai ia ʻe he vailasí.

    Hili ha uike ʻenau foki mai ki Nuʻu Sila ní he ʻaho 15 ʻo Sānualí ne kamata ke ʻasi ʻiate ia ha matakovi pe kula e kanoʻi matá mo ne velia foki.

    I he ʻaho hono hokó ne mafola e taka kula hono kilí ʻi hono sinó, fakalalahi e veli pea kamata ke mamahi e hokotanga hui hono vaʻé, tuiʻi vaʻé, kiaʻi nimá mo hono tuiʻi nimá.

    Pehē ʻe Fifitá ne ʻikai ke ne toe lava ke ne fua ha meʻá koeʻuhī ko e felangaaki hono sinó.

    Ne hoko ʻe ne hohaʻa ki he ngali kehe ʻa e ʻū fakaʻilonga ne ʻasi hono sinó ke ʻave ai ia ʻe he hono husepānití ki he Fale Mahaki Christchurch.

    Ne ʻuluaki fakahā ange ʻe he kau ngaué ngali ne ne maʻu ʻa e mofi tengí lolotonga ʻene ʻi Tongá ka ne pehē ʻe ha toketā ngalingali ʻokú ne maʻu ʻa e vailasi zika.

    Pehē ʻe Fifitá ne teʻeki tuʻotaha fanongo ia he zika ki muʻa ka ne ne ʻohovale hili ʻene fekumi he ʻinitanetí ki he zika.

    Ne ne pehē ne ne hohaʻa ai he mahino ki ai ʻoku ʻikai toe kehe e meʻa ne ne vakai ki ai ʻi he ʻinitanetí mo ia ne ʻasi hono sinó.

    Ne fakaʻatā ia mei fale mahaki he ʻaho hokó.

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