Spain records first case of Zika virus

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A Spanish woman who caught Zika while travelling in South America has discovered her unborn baby has microcephaly.

The unnamed woman, from Catalonia, was told her baby has several abnormalities at her 20-week scan.

Today, the country’s Health Ministry confirmed it was Spain’s first case.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been linked to hundreds of cases of microcephaly in countries such as Brazil, which has declared a public health emergency over the disease.

The birth defect is marked by babies born with brain abnormalities and undersized heads.

Though dozens of people in Spain and Europe are known to have contracted Zika, usually after spending time in affected countries, there have so far been few cases of babies developing microcephaly symptoms as a result in the region.

In February, Spain was found to have the first case in Europe of a pregnant woman with the virus. It is not known if this woman was the first to be diagnosed.

The Spanish government said it has identified 105 people infected with Zika, 13 of them pregnant women.

‘A (pregnant) woman was infected by Zika and dengue and the foetus shows signs of having developed various malformations, ‘health authorities in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia said in a statement.

The woman, who is 20 weeks into her pregnancy, has decided to keep the baby, Spanish media reported.

It is thought she contracted the virus, as well as Dengue fever, several months ago while travelling in South America.

A similar case was diagnosed in Slovenia, in a woman who became pregnant living in Brazil and who aborted the foetus.

Zika has been sweeping through South and Central America and the Caribbean and making its way north to the United States.

Experts say people in Europe should brace themselves as mosquitoes carrying the virus are expected to flock to the continent as summer arrives.

In February the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,100 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.

The case in Spain comes just says after scientists warned the risk was more dangerous in pregnant women than first feared.

Experts are now linking it to several neurological conditions – in addition to microcephaly.

Dr Renato Sa, an obstetrician and foetal medicine specialist, said he believes babies in up to a fifth of pregnant women with the virus could be affected.

Other countries such as France have reported cases of the Zika virus being sexually-transmitted.

There is no cure or treatment for the virus, which is usually transmitted by mosquitoes and has spread to more than 30countries.

 

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