Spain Confirms First European Case Of Zika Virus


The first known pregnancy case of the Zika virus in Europe was diagnosed in Spain on Feb. 4.  The disease was diagnosed in a pregnant woman who had reportedly just returned from Colombia.  

The diagnosis comes after the World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency.  The disease has been most prevalent in the Americas and is linked to infants’ underdeveloped brains, reports the BBC.

Zika is known to be spread by mosquitos, and was detected in large numbers in Brazil in 2015.

The Spanish Health Ministry said that the pregnant woman is one of seven diagnosed with Zika in the country.

The Health Ministry emphasized that there is no significant risk of Zika spreading throughout Spain, saying that “the diagnosed cases of Zika virus in Spain … don’t risk spreading the virus in our country as they are imported cases.”

The WHO indicated reports of associations of the Zika virus with microcephaly and other neurological conditions.  Microcephaly is a neurological condition that can affect infants’ head size and brain development. 

The WHO urged preventative measures to combat the spread of the Zika virus throughout Latin America and the world.  The organization stressed additional precautions to be taken by pregnant women.

“Attention should be given to ensuring women of childbearing age and particularly pregnant women have the necessary information and materials to reduce risk of exposure,” the WHO said in a Feb. 1 statement.

The WHO stressed that while caution must be taken to curb the spread of the disease, it did not recommend restricting contact with affected countries.

“There should be no restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission,” said the WHO.

The Zika virus has been known to be affecting people in Africa for over 50 years, though it has received little press attention, reports The Economist.  In 2013, Zika affected a significant number of people in French Polynesia, causing auto-immune and neurological problems. 

Sources: BBC, The Economist, The World Health Organization / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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