Zika Virus Expected to Spread to Europe

The Zika Virus is set to spread into Europe by the summer according to the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the risk of a Zika Virus outbreak in Europe is likely in the spring and summer, with an overall risk of low to moderate. While this risk varies across the Region, it is higher risk in countries where Aedes mosquitoes are present, such as Madeira Island (Portugal) and the north-eastern Black Sea coast.

Other countries that carry a risk of an outbreak are France, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Israel, Spain, Monaco, San Marino, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Georgia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. With the UK showing a low risk of an outbreak.

The Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. Mosquitoes that spread chikungunya, dengue, and Zika are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night.

WHO has recommended that people living in the risk countries, or planning to visit a country within the risk zone take precautionary measures. For example, helping to reduce the possibility of mosquito breeding sites by discarding standing water.

They also encourage people to protect themselves from infection, especially pregnant women as they can pass the Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy and is the cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

For more information on the outbreak, visit the World Health Organisation FAQ page.

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