British actor Tony Gardner has revealed that he caught the Zika virus while filming the BBC crime series Death in Paradise in the Caribbean.
Known for his roles in Last Tango in Halifax, Fresh Meat and The Thick of It, the 52-year-old was taken ill after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the disease in Guadeloupe.
Speaking on comedian Sean Hughes’ podcast Under the Radar, Gardner said he felt “pretty rough” for a week after being bitten. He added that he and other crew members could make up “quite a lot” of the more than 250 Brits who are known to have caught the virus.
“There are now about 200 Brits who have had Zika,” Gardner said, “But quite a lot of them, possibly, come from the group of people that go out to Guadeloupe for six months a year to film.”
“In retrospect I should have been more aggressive with the repellant,” he said.
He added: “About a couple of hours before I flew out I got a rash. And then for a week I wasn’t particularly well with joint pain and swelling… I just felt pretty rough actually for about a week.”
Gardner, who is a father and a qualified doctor, said that the virus was “not a problem for me because I’ve finished my family. It’s quite dangerous for people getting pregnant or men starting families.”
The production company behind Death in Paradise, Red Planet Pictures, said in a statement: “Information was provided on avoiding all mosquito-borne viruses and insect repellent was available on set at all times. Despite these precautions, a small number of the team were unwell after having been bitten.”
An outbreak of Zika in Brazil in 2015 was linked to instances of the birth defect microcephaly and women have been warned not to try and conceive for at least eight weeks after visiting areas affected by the virus.