A THIRD case of the tropical Zika virus has been confirmed in Spain – this time in a patient in Valladolid, centre-northern Spain, who had just returned from a known risk area in Colombia.
Details of the patient have not been confirmed, although the previous two – both in Catalunya – were said to be women from different countries in South America.
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a crisis committee after over 20 countries were found to be high-risk zones, in practice the virus is not a serious health problem for individual patients, unless they are pregnant.
Transported by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito – only found in tropical climates – the Zika virus is part of the same strain as dengue and symptoms start to appear within two days to a week after the victim is stung.
Typical reactions are headaches, fatigue, conjuntivitis and general body pain, very similar to the 'flu, but the virus works its way out of the body of its own accord within under two weeks.
For pregnant women, contracting the Zika bug is a different story: serious brain and neurological disorders and deformities have been found in unborn children of affected mothers-to-be, which can lead to the death of the foetus or serious and life-altering disability upon birth.
Anyone who believes they may be pregnant should avoid, or take extreme caution when travelling to affected countries, which are mainly those in the tropics.