Spain’s health ministry seeks to ease concerns, pointing out that all 7 patients caught the disease abroad
MADRID, Spain (Feb. 5, 2016) — Spain said Thursday, February 4, that a pregnant woman who had returned from Colombia had been diagnosed with the Zika virus, in the first such known European case.
“One of the patients diagnosed in (the northeastern region of) Catalonia is a pregnant woman, who showed symptoms after having traveled to Colombia,” the health ministry announced, adding she is one of 7 cases in Spain and all are in good condition.
News of the mosquito-borne virus, thought to cause birth defects, first emerged in Brazil last year, and health authorities have warned the disease could infect up to 4 million people in the Americas and spread worldwide.
The fever starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash.
But since October, Brazil has reported 404 confirmed cases of microcephaly where the baby’s head is abnormally small – up from 147 in 2014 – plus 3,670 suspected cases.
The timing has fueled strong suspicions that Zika is causing the birth defect.
The virus has also been linked to a potentially paralyzing nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome in some patients.
Spain’s health ministry nevertheless sought to ease concerns, pointing out that all 7 patients had caught the disease abroad.
“Up to now, the diagnosed cases of Zika virus in Spain… don’t risk spreading the virus in our country as they are imported cases,” it said.