Head-shrinking Zika virus reaches Denmark after tourist returning from Latin America is diagnosed with the disease

  • Danish tourist diagnosed with Zika virus, linked to brain damage in babies
  • Returned from travels in Central and South America, said Aarhus hospital
  • Pregnant women are told to avoid travelling to the affected 22 countries
  • Four cases in Italy, three in Britain and two in region of Catalonia in Spain

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A Danish tourist returning from Latin America has been diagnosed with the Zika virus, which has been blamed for a surge in birth defects in Brazil and other countries in the region. The diagnosis was confirmed by the hospital at which he is being treated, the Aarhus hospital in eastern Denmark.

A Danish tourist who travelled to Central and South America was diagnosed on his return with the Zika virus, the hospital said in a statement.

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Virus: Kerly Ariza, 17, who is 20 weeks pregnant, at her home in Ibague, Colombia. Ariza was diagnosed with clinical symptoms of the Zika virus at a local hospital and is awaiting for the results of laboratory tests

Infectious: A has been diagnosed with the Zika virus, which has been linked to babies being born with severe brain damage and small heads

Cases of the virus have already been discovered in Europe – with three cases in Great Britain, four in Italy, two in Switzerland and two in Spain’s Catalonia region. The British travellers had picked up the disease after being bitten by mosquitoes while visiting Colombia, Suriname and Guyana. All the cases so far discovered in Europe have been in people who recently returned from trips to Latin America or the Caribbean, and who had picked up the virus after being bitten by mosquitoes on their travels.

But experts now believe that the disease itself could potentially be spread within Italy by the Tiger Mosquito which, although once native to Asia, is now widespread across southern Europe.

The disease could be carried by the Tiger Mosquito, Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist at the University of Milan, told La Repubblica.

The infected patient was then bitten by a Tiger Mosquito, and the Chikungunya virus was spread to over 200 people. He continued: We need to isolate infected people and ensure that if they have the disease they don t leave their homes to try and ensure they don t pass to disease to a Tiger Mosquito.

It s like a fire: if you put it out straight away it s no problem, if not it can become a huge blaze. Clean-up: Insecticide is sprayed by workers in the Sambadrome today, ahead of a carnival performance where thousands of dancers will parade

Heartbreaking: The Zika virus has been blamed for causing severe brain damage to newborn babies.

Pictured, Estafany Perreira holds her five-month-old nephew David Henrique Ferreira, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil

Ready for battle: Brazil has sent in 200,000 soldiers to distribute leaflets and dispense advice in the fight against the growing epidemic

It comes as Brazil sent more than 200,000 troops to go ‘house to house’ in the battle against Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Soldiers will visit homes across Brazil, distributing leaflets and dispensing advice, according to Health Minister Marcelo Castro, signalling a major ramping up of efforts against the Zika virus. The government, under growing pressure to deal with the crisis, will also hand out repellent to at least 400,000 pregnant women on social welfare.

The virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly, in which babies born to women infected during pregnancy have abnormally small heads. Concerns remain that the terrifying virus could become a global issue with Rio hosting the Olympics in the summer. The World Health Organisation has said that the virus will spread throughout all countries in America except Chile and Canada.

‘Our investigation is on course to develop a better testing with respect to the prenatal transmission of the disease, and to better understand how the virus affects babies,’ said a spokesman for the organisation. Helping hand: A pediatric infectologist at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital examines 2-month-old Ludmilla Hadassa Dias de Vasconcelos, who has microcephaly

Concern: Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to the 22 countries where outbreaks have been reported, as the Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, in which babies born to women infected during pregnancy have abnormally small heads

A surge in incidents across Latin America, notably in Brazil, has prompted the United States and other governments to warn pregnant women against traveling to the region – an alarming prospect for Brazil as it gears up to welcome the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro in August.

Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to the 22 countries where the infection has been reported, which include nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania – but this could cause havoc for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Unlike some other international health scares, the Zika virus is not spread person to person and people are only becoming infected after being bitten by mosquitoes. For most people who get infected, the flu-like symptoms will clear up in about a week. But the specific threat to pregnant women and their foetuses, and the seeming impossibility of avoiding mosquitoes in tropical countries, has given this crisis extra gravity.

Brazil has recorded at least 3,893 microcephaly cases since an unusual spike in the rare condition was noticed in the country’s northeast in October. Previously an annual average of 160 cases was the norm. Moving in: The government, under growing pressure to deal with the crisis, will also hand out repellent to at least 400,000 pregnant women on social welfare

Growing: In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants

Terrifying: Fears remain how Brazil will manage to contain the deadly virus, particularly when Rio hosts the Olympics in the summer

And short of not getting pregnant, there is no foolproof method for avoiding risk.

Mr Castro said last week that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries Zika and also dengue fever and the chikungunya virus, was gaining momentum. Dr Dipti Patel, director at National Travel Health Network and Centre, warned: ‘All travellers, especially pregnant women going to the Americas, should ensure they seek travel health advice from their GP or a travel clinic well in advance of their trip.

22 COUNTRIES THAT ARE AFFECTED

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued initial travel warnings to pregnant women last week, adding eight more places to the list on Friday.

The warnings now extend to:

Central and South America: Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela

Caribbean: Barbados, Saint Martin, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe

Oceania: Samoa

Africa: Cape Verde

‘We strongly advise all travellers to avoid mosquito bites and urge pregnant women to consider avoiding travel to areas where Zika outbreaks are currently reported.

‘If travel is unavoidable, or they live in areas where Zika is reported, they should take scrupulous insect bite avoidance measures both during daytime and nighttime hours.

‘Women who are planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess the risk of infection with Zika and receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures.’

Dr Hilary Kirkbride, travel and migrant health expert at PHE, said: ‘The symptoms of Zika are similar to other mosquito-borne infections such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria so laboratory testing is essential for the correct diagnosis.

‘If you have recently returned from the Americas, including the Caribbean, and have a fever or flu-like illness, seek medical attention without delay to exclude malaria and mention your travel history.’

The Foreign Office advised Britons to seek advice before travelling anywhere where the virus has been reported in the last year ‘particularly if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant’. Only a handful of Zika cases had ever been documented before 2013.

Drive: A Brazilian Army soldier makes a note inspecting a home while canvassing a neighborhood in an attempt to eradicate the Zika virus

No cure: Experts estimate that as many as 1.5million people in Brazil could be infected with the Zika virus, which has no cure and spreads through mosquito bites

Disorder: It is thought the Zika virus – which was at first thought to be relatively innocuous – may have arrived in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup by visitors from French Polynesia, where an outbreak had just occurred

But scientists began sounding the alarm after multiple outbreaks were discovered in Pacific islands and south-east Asia. It is thought the Zika virus – which was at first thought to be relatively innocuous – may have arrived in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup by visitors from French Polynesia, where an outbreak had just occurred. Scientists estimate as many as 1.5 million people could now be infected in Brazil.

Colombia has the second highest infection rate, with more than 13,500 people infected with the virus and the disease could hit as many as 700,000, its health minister said. The country’s health minister, Alejandro Gaviria, urged women to delay pregnancies for up to eight months. He said: ‘We are doing this because I believe it’s a good way to communicate the risk, to tell people that there could be serious consequences.’

Similar warnings were issued in Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica.

However, women’s rights campaigners criticised the recommendations, saying women in the region often had little choice about becoming pregnant.

‘It’s incredibly naive for a government to ask women to postpone getting pregnant in a context such as Colombia, where more than 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and across the region where sexual violence is prevalent,’ said Monica Roa, a member of Women’s Link Worldwide group. Outbreak: Colombia has the second highest infection rate, with more than 13,500 people infected with the virus and the disease could hit as many as 700,000, its health minister said. Pictured, Brazilian soldiers canvassing a neighbourhood in Recife, Brazil

Tears: Joao Batista holds his one-month-old daughter Alice Vitoria in his arms. The baby suffers from microcephaly, which causes Alice to have an unusually small head and impaired brain function

ZIKA VIRUS: WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito (inset), which is also known to carry yellow fever. The terrifying virus has now started to spread across the Americas

How it spreads:

Zika virus is spread to people via mosquito bites.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivtis. Infected patients are typically ill for a few days to a week. While the illness is generally mild, some experts in Brazil have suggested a possible link between the virus in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

The CDC said recently it is aware of reports of increased numbers of babies born with microcephaly, or smaller than expected head size, in Brazil. The Ministry of Health in Brazil is concerned about a possible association between the Zika virus and increased numbers of babies born with microcephaly.

How to prevent it:

There is no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to treat Zika virus. Travellers can protect themselves by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using a mosquito net and wearing insect repellent.

Pregnant women are being warned to avoid travelling to 22 countries were outbreaks have been reported.

Source: CDC

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