Zika virus scientific advisory group set up by the HSE

The HPSC has issued specific advice to health professionals

Zika virus, HSE, advisory group, HPSC, Simon Haris, infectious disease, Ireland,

A medical researcher uses a monitor that shows the results of blood tests for various diseases, including Zika, at the Gorgas Memorial laboratory in Panama City | Image: Arnulfo Franco / AP/Press Association Images

A Zika Virus Scientific Advisory Subcommittee has been established by the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

It will advise the government on Zika-related matters.

The HPSC has issued specific advice regarding Zika virus to health professionals and other relevant groups.

The virus has also been added to a list of diseases that must be reported to the health authorities here.

Health Minister Simon Harris has signed the Infectious Diseases Regulations, making the virus a notifiable disease in Ireland.

This information is used to investigate cases and prevent spread of infection and further cases.

The Department of Health says it will also facilitate the early identification of possible outbreaks of the disease.

The response is being coordinated by the Health Threats Coordination Group.

However, the Department of Health says environmental conditions in Ireland do not support the natural reservoirs or vectors of the virus.

"Consequently, the risk of onward transmission of the disease in Ireland is considered low", it adds.

But it is advising Irish people travelling in countries where Zika virus disease is present to seek appropriate advice prior to travel - and take appropriate precautions against infection when abroad.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the Zika virus is likely to spread to Europe by late spring and summer.

But it also classified Ireland as having a "very low" risk of an outbreak, coming 12th last on their list.