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Suspicious Mosquito-borne Zika virus reaches Europe

28 January 2016 13:48



The mosquito-borne Zika virus has reached Europe, with Denmark, Switzerland and Portugal reporting cases of infections among travelers returning from Latin America.

A hospital in eastern Denmark said a tourist who had traveled to Central and South America was diagnosed on his return with the Zika virus.

Two travelers returning to Switzerland from Haiti and Colombia were also diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday.

Among other European countries, the Netherlands has confirmed 10 Zika cases, Britain five, Italy and Portugal four, and Spain two. All of the patients had traveled to South America.

Health watchdogs in a string of European countries, meanwhile, said they had recorded Zika cases dating back to as early as March 2015.

Brazil declares war on Zika

Brazil has called on Latin American countries to unite in fighting Zika, which is now feared to have turned into an epidemic.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Wednesday that her country must wage war on the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the Zika virus.

Rousseff said she had called on the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to launch “cooperative action in the fight against the Zika virus.”

The outbreak has hit Brazil at a time when the country is preparing to host the Olympics, which will bring hundreds of thousands of travelers from around the world to Rio de Janeiro in August.

There is currently no cure or vaccine for Zika and no way to prevent it other than avoiding mosquito bites. The virus hit some 20 countries in Latin America.

‘Explosive pandemic’

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it expected the virus to spread to every country in the Americas except Canada and Chile.

A number of US scientists recently called on WHO to take urgent against the outbreak of the virus, before it turns to an “explosive pandemic.”

Writing in a US medical journal, they said the WHO must heed lessons from the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and convene an emergency committee of disease experts to tackle the Zika virus.

The scientists wrote that a vaccine might be ready for testing in two years but it could be a decade before it is publicly available.

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