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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Deadly Zika virus spreads to over 20 countries, says EU

A mosquito virus known to carry dengue fever-like symptoms has been reported in 23 counties over the past two months, China’s Xinhua news agency reported according to an assessment by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released yesterday.

The Zika virus has spread to 13 additional countries or territories since its last assessment in December, the Stockholm-based agency said in a statement.

“Blood safety authorities should consider the deferral of donors with a relevant travel history to affected areas, in line with measures defined for dengue virus,” it recommended.

Cases in Brazil, Hawaii, El Salvador and Venezuela were reported over the past two months, the EDCD said, while a total of 27 countries reported cases of the Zika virus in the last nine months.

Several Zika-affected countries reported increases in the muscle-weakening Guillain Barre syndrome, according to the agency, although it concluded that further studies were required “to assess the strength of the association” between the two.

Brazilian authorities recently received reports of four newborns with microcephaly, a brain condition that can prove deadly, which had possible associations to the Zika virus.

The ECDC advised all travelers to the affected areas “to take protective measures against mosquito bites, including during the day”.

The ECDC, headquartered in the Swedish capital since 2005, works with health authorities across Europe in fighting infectious diseases.

- Bernama

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