Zika reaches Europe: Visitors to S America test positive for virus

Denmark and Switzerland on Wednesday joined a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travellers returning from Latin America, where the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed for a surge in birth defects. “A Danish tourist who travelled to Central and South America was diagnosed on his return with the Zika virus,” a hospital in eastern Denmark said in a statement late on Tuesday. The Danish patient was a young man who was expected to make a full recovery, the head of Aarhus hospital, Lars Ostergaard, told public broadcaster DR.

Two people returning to Switzerland from Haiti and Colombia were also diagnosed with the virus, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said. Neither was pregnant and neither required hospital care, the statement said.

Health watchdogs in a string of European countries meanwhile said they had recorded Zika cases dating back to as early as March 2015. The Netherlands confirmed 10 cases and Britain five, all among people returning from South America.

In Italy, the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Disease said four cases were recorded in March 2015, while in Portugal, the health ministry said on Wednesday that five Portuguese had been infected. All eight had been travelling in Brazil. A woman in the Swedish capital Stockholm was diagnosed with the virus in July 2015, the Swedish Public Health Agency confirmed on Wednesday. “The symptoms were treated and the woman recovered,” said Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of microbiology at the health agency.

Health officials in Helsinki say that a Finnish tourist was infected by the Zika virus after visiting the Maldives last summer. Epidemiologist Jussi Sane at the National Institute for Health and Welfare says it was a minor infection and the man was well and had been allowed home soon after being treated by doctors in June 2015.

In Moscow, health minister Veronika Skvortsova said the Russia authorities had been “monitoring (Zika) since it appeared. Now we are working on controlling it as soon as any strange strains appear, to have domestic medication for prevention and treatment”.

Source: Reuters

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