Zika virus to spread across Europe, threat for traveling pregnant women

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Zika virus airport noticeZika virus has spread to more than 20 countries in the Americas. Today, Spain has confirmed that a pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the Zika virus - the first such case in Europe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced its concern over reports that a case of the Zika virus contracted in the US state of Texas was transmitted sexually.

As the outbreak quickly spreads across the Americas, the unprecedented and explosive outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease is causing fear in the affected regions. Scientists are concerned that the tiger mosquito, which is rife in Spain, could infect hundreds of thousands of people with the Zika virus.

The UK's National Travel Health Network and Centre says pregnant women should reconsider their travel plans, and that any traveler should seek advice from a health professional before departing.

And it adds that pregnant women who have to travel should take "scrupulous" measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

The World Health Organisation said the risk of an outbreak would increase in the spring and summer as temperatures rise.

Millions of British holidaymakers visit Spain each year, particularly in the summer holidays when mosquitoes are most numerable. Therefore UK is at high risk and Spain may have disruptions in tourism this summer.

Meanwhile, in six months Olympic Games will open in Rio, Brazil. Brazil is facing an epidemic and the rapid spread of Zika has raised concerns among the Rio Olympic organising committee. The committee stressed there is no risk to the athletes or spectators – except pregnant women. It believes the August weather will reduce cases of the virus.

The committee pointed out it has not seen any evidence of people cancelling travel to the Olympics. But airlines are starting to offer refunds or date changes to pregnant women who plan to go to any of the affected countries.

It appears there has been no impact to date on the tourist trade in Brazil where the epidemic began in May 2015.

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