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Zika Virus in Europe

Here in Spain there are currently seven people who have been infected by the virus, including a pregnant woman. But there are several people infected in other European countries.

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Spanish health authorities report that a pregnant 25-year-old woman from Catalonia has been infected with the Zika virus while traveling in Colombia. She is the first pregnant European woman who has been infected. According to the Ministry of Health, all cases of infection in Spain happened while traveling in Colombia. All those affected in Spain are out of danger, but when it comes to the fetus, it is too early to say anything.

But it is not only in Spain that have cases of Zika virus in Europe. There are cases of infection in several European countries, including Britain. Also in these cases contagion happened during trips to South and Central America. Meanwhile there have been several cases of the disease in the United States, now in the states of Arkansas and Virginia, after residents traveled to infection affected areas. Many countries, including the United States discourages pregnant women from traveling to the affected areas.

In Britain, the NHS has banned travellers from giving blood for 28 days after they have returned from zika infected countries. The Spanish Ministry of Health has still not been drawn up any recommendations, but advises people traveling to Central and South America to be cautious and take contact with the health care (tel 900 102 112), especially those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced earlier this week that they consider the Zika virus to be an international danger and warns of serious risks to the global health. On Thursday WHO also advised countries against accepting blood donations from people who have been traveling in the Zika-affected countries. Until now, the virus has primarily affected Latin America and the Caribbean. Worst of all is the situation in Brazil. It is considered that the virus will spread to almost all of America, exempt Chile and Canada.

Infection paths

The virus is primarily transmitted through bites from mosquitoes of the genus Aedes in tropical areas. But there are two documented cases where the infection has occurred through sexual transmission and two cases through blood transfusion.

zika-mosquitoThe mosquito that spreads the virus in the tropics does not exist in Europe, but there are other related mosquitoes here who are suspected of being able to spread the virus. The Tiger Mosquito is such a relative and it exists in Europe from Spain and up to southern Germany. In addition, there is a similar mosquito in Southern UK and in other European countries, the Tree-hole Breeding Mosquito “Aedes geniculatus”. “It is quite closely related to mosquitoes that spreads the Zika virus. This mosquito has been shown to spread both yellow fever and chikungunya in laboratory tsts and it is not unreasonable to imagine that it can spread the Zika virus” says swedish researcher and mosquito expert Anders Lindström.


The common signs of zika infection includes fever, rash, joint pain and headaches, and are similar to the symptoms of dengue fever and chikungunya. The incubation period, or time of exposure to the virus from mosquito bites until you get symptoms are not fully known, but is probably from a few days up to a week. The disease lasts several days and is so mild that hospitalization is rarely required. Deaths are very rare.

zika-virus-childThe virus is suspected of being behind the severe deformities where children are born with small heads and severe retardation. Microcefali as the condition is called, involves a malformation of the brain so that the baby’s brain becomes too small. The brain weight will often be less than 1000 grams.

Preventive measures

There is no vaccine and no cure for the virus. The only thing one can do is to protect yourself by wearing protective clothing, insect repellent and mosquito nets. And of course to avoid traveling to the affected areas.

The United Airlines offers customers who have booked tickets to the zika affected areas money back if they change on the journey and, according to Reuters.