• Spain's news in English
Spain urges calm amid fears over head-shrinking Zika virus
Photo: AFP

Spain urges calm amid fears over head-shrinking Zika virus

AFP/The Local · 27 Jan 2016, 16:11

Published: 27 Jan 2016 16:11 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In Spain, two cases of Zika were detected in late 2015, authorities in the northeastern region of Catalonia confirmed on Friday.

Both were South American women - aged 30 and 45 - who had travelled to the continent over Christmas. Diagnosed on their return, they have since fully recovered. Neither was pregnant.

The news comes as Spanish Health Minister Alfonso Alonso has called for calm, saying that the risk of a case appearing in Spain is "very low". 

He did, however, warn pregnant women planning on travelling to the affected areas to consult a doctor before travelling. 

"There have been two cases in Catalonia, both brought by women coming from South America," he said, speaking on Radio Nacional Española (RNE) on Tuesday. 

"The women are doing well and there has been no native case in Spain. The risk of a case being produced in Spain is very low," he said. 

Infections across Europe 

Denmark and Switzerland on Wednesday joined a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travellers returning from Latin America, where the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed for a surge in birth defects.

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

The Danish patient was a young man who was expected to make a full recovery, the head of Aarhus hospital, Lars Ostergaard, told public broadcaster DR.

Two people returning to Switzerland from Haiti and Colombia were also diagnosed with the virus, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said.

Neither was pregnant and neither required hospital care, the statement said.

Health watchdogs in a string of European countries meanwhile said they had recorded Zika cases dating back to as early as March 2015.

The Netherlands confirmed 10 cases and Britain five, all among people returning from South America.

In Italy, the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Disease said four cases were recorded in March 2015, while in Portugal, the health ministry said four Portuguese had been infected.

All eight had been travelling in Brazil.

A woman in the Swedish capital Stockholm was diagnosed with the virus in July 2015, the Swedish Public Health Agency confirmed Wednesday.

"The symptoms were treated and the woman recovered," said Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of microbiology at the health agency.

No vaccine 

In Moscow, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the Russia authorities had been "monitoring (Zika) since it appeared.

"Now we are working on controlling it as soon as any strange strains appear... to have domestic medication for prevention and treatment."

President Vladimir Putin added: "We need to pay attention to this ... work with transportation companies, airlines, understand the signs and react quickly."

"Of course mosquitoes cannot fly over the ocean, but infected people can and do."

Story continues below…

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika, a flu-like disease with a rash that goes unnoticed in 70 to 80 percent of cases.

Most patients treat the symptoms simply with painkillers and other medication.

The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito after it takes a blood meal from an infected person. The insect can also carry dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Zika was first reported in Africa, Asia and the Pacific before leaping to the Americas, where it has been linked to a jump in the number of babies born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, particularly in Brazil.

The tally of cases of microcephaly in Brazil surged from 163 per year on average to 3,893 after the Zika outbreak began last year. Forty-nine of the babies have died.

Some 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries have been swept up in the outbreak which has extended as far north as Mexico.

Travellers have also brought it back to the US states of Florida, Hawaii and New York.

So far there has been no known cases of local transmission - infections that are generated within a country - in the US or Europe, although France said such cases had occurred in its departments and territories in the Caribbean basin.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make classic Spanish ham croquettes
Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Learn how to make this all-time Spanish favourite at home.

Halloween weekend: Sunny skies and nightmare traffic
Authorities expect 5.5 million cars to take to the road over the 'puente'. Archive photo: AFP

Spain is set for great weather over the long weekend. But be prepared for nightmare traffic.

Southern Spain will become a desert with global warming
Photo: Steven Stralton / Flickr

Southern Spain will become a desert if global warning continues, scientists have warned.

Eight Spanish films to truely terrify you this Halloween
Photo: Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons.

Looking for something to give you goosebumps this Halloween? The Local looks at eight Spanish films that are sure to have you cowering beneath the covers.

Spain's Socialists refuse to go easy on Rajoy once in power
Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists may have reluctantly decided to let Mariano Rajoy govern again but they will not go easy on the acting conservative premier once he re-takes power, they warned on Thursday.

Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
jobs available