A FOURTH case of the tropical Zika virus has been detected in Spain – this time in the Murcia Region in a man who recently travelled to an affected country, which has not been disclosed.
He was treated at the Rafael Méndez hospital in Lorca two weeks ago and his test results have just revealed he is positive for the infection, which is passed on through Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.
These are not native to Europe and are only found in tropical climates, but the four cases in Spain have been in Latin Americans who have recently been to their country of origin for a visit.
All four patients are said to be in good health and none of them have been hospitalised.
Public health director-general for the region, Dr Manuel Molina Boix, believes sooner or later, cases which originated in Spain will start to appear.
Health authorities at national level expect more and more imported cases over the summer.
In practice, the virus is nothing to worry about unless the affected person is pregnant, when it is believed to be linked to brain deformities in the foetus.
For everyone else, hospitalisation is not normally needed and the virus works its way out of the patient's system within under a week.
Symptoms are similar to the 'flu, including aching, tiredness and headaches, joint pain and conjuntivitis.
It cannot be transmitted person-to-person, meaning anyone who has never come into contact with the carrier mosquitoes will not contract it.
But the presence of tiger mosquitoes last summer in Spain for the first time – bugs which have previously only lived in the tropics and which are carriers of the Chikungunya virus, similar to dengue – means public health authorities are concerned the Aedes Aegypti flies may find their way to Europe.