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First case in Europe of Zika virus in pregnant woman diagnosed
A PREGNANT woman who had travelled to Colombia from her home in Barcelona has become the first case of the tropical virus Zika to affect an expecting mother in Europe.
She is not said to be in hospital, but is following a course of treatment at home as recommended by her gynaecologist.
Whilst regional health authorities believe the chances of the baby being born with a too-small and under-developed brain are 'very low', the mother-to-be, aged 41, is being monitored closely.
She is said to be between week 13 and 14 of her pregnancy, but it is not until around 15 that an ultrasound starts to show whether or not the growth of the foetus is following the right pattern.
Earlier this week, another man was diagnosed with Zika in the classical university city of Salamanca, in Castilla y León.
The patient is a Venezuelan man who recently went to his country of origin to see family and friends.
He is said to be only mildly affected and was discharged from Valladolid's Río Hortega hospital the day his test results came out.
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an international emergency over the virus – similar to dengue and transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito – in practice it is not dangerous, except for pregnant women.
Cases of babies born with very small, under-developed brains in Brazil have rocketed from an average of 150 a year to over 4,000, and many of their mothers had contracted the Zika virus.
It is transmitted by mosquitoes which, at present, only live in Africa, parts of Asia and some sub-tropical Latin American countries, and cannot be passed on through person-to-person contact, nor is it airborne.
However, the USA says it has diagnosed the first-ever case of sexually-transmitted Zika, in the State of Texas.
Symptoms are similar to those of the 'flu, including conjuntivitis, joint pain, headaches, fatigue and general soreness and unease, but the virus works its way out of the human system within two to seven days, usually without treatment, and leaving practically no after-effects.
Very few people have to go to hospital with it, and those who do are discharged within days or even hours.
The Venezuelan man is the second patient to have caught the Zika bug in Castilla y León, followed by a patient from Madrid, a Murcia man and six women in Catalunya.
They are all Latin Americans who have recently visited their home countries, since the carrier mosquitoes are not present in Spain.
Medics say anyone affected should get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take the usual over-the-counter pain and 'flu remedies.
If symptoms worsen, they should take immediate medical advice.
Any women who have recently been in one of the high-risk countries and believe they could be pregnant should tell their gynaecologists, who will ensure they are closely monitored.
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