THE UN has warned the Zika virus could spread to Europe – either with moisquitos or from sexually infected tourists. The warning comes in spite of reports that the head-shrinking illness which causes birth defects in new borns is declining in South America. Health agency scientists said Zika’s range is likely to expand across the world – including Europe, as chiefs admitted they don’t have the knowledge to fight it.
“The mosquito knows no borders.” She also said the added risk of sexually transmitted infection “could see a marked increase in the number of people with Zika and related complications”. Zika causes microcephaly, a form of severe brain damage in newborn babies.
It can also cause brain problems in adults, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can cause paralysis and death. Yesterday Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University’s medical school, said: “I think we’ll definitely see cases in Scotland. “Here there’s not been that much alarm simply because mosquitoes are not a problem as they are in Miami, Puerto Rico and Brazil.
“But there’s the sexual transmission of Zuka, so if you have people travelling to countries where there is Zika then there is also an issue with that.” But medical bosses admit they still don’t know enough about Zika to cure it. Speaking at the Zika crisis talks in France, attended by 600 experts from 43 countries, scientists said they were concerned about gaps in knowledge.
David Heymann, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We can’t make recommendations if we don’t understand the full potential of a virus or bacteria.” He described Zika as a “global emergency”, and said they need to get quicker at diagnosing people, particularly pregnant women.
The virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. European mosquitos, known as Aedes albopictus, is less “prone” to causing outbreaks, The Sun reports.