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Zika warning for Europe

Thursday May 19th, 2016

Europe could see its first Zika virus outbreak within weeks, health officials warned yesterday.

The highest risk is on the Atlantic island of Madeira and on the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea, the World Health Organisation warned.

There is also a "moderate" risk in another 18 countries infested with the Aedes albopictus mosquito, WHO said. The main carrier of the disease is the Aedes aegypti.

Aedes albopictus - the Asian Tiger mosquito - is spreading to Mediterranean, the Balkans and areas to the east of the Black Sea and has been found in southern Switzerland. It is capable of hibernating during the winter.

WHO called for the countries at risk to take steps to protect their populations from the Zika virus and ensure they have the facilities and training to detect it.

The organisation says it will provide testing facilities if necessary.

It warned of a risk of outbreaks in the late spring and summer.

WHO regional director Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said: “The new evidence published today tells us that there is a risk of spread of Zika virus disease in the European Region and that this risk varies from country to country.

“With this risk assessment, we at WHO want to inform and target preparedness work in each European country based on its level of risk. We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak.”

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses

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