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Dangerous Zika virus: researchers warn of epidemic around the Mediterranean
The dangerous Zika virus, which is suspected of causing skull malformations in newborns, could also spread around the Mediterranean in summer. This has been pointed out by Swedish scientists. Pregnant women in particular should protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Zika epidemic around the Mediterranean feared
The dangerous Zika virus has been spreading in several countries in Central and South America for several months. The pathogen was occasionally brought to other parts of the world by travelers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a global health emergency due to the virus. A few cases have already been reported in this country. Twelve cases were reported in May alone. But it could get worse. According to a report by the news agency dts, Swedish researchers are warning of a Zika epidemic around the Mediterranean in summer.
Virus comes to Europe with vacationers
According to Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, head of virus diagnostics at the tropical institute in Spain, the triggers are vacationers who bring the Zika virus with them to Europe from trips to South America Hamburg, opposite the news magazine "Focus". The expert went on to explain: "Especially when infected people show no symptoms, several other people can contract the virus." Schmidt-Chanasit advises pregnant women to protect themselves from mosquito bites by staying in air-conditioned rooms or using mosquito nets. However, they should avoid mosquito sprays, since it is unclear whether their active ingredients damage the embryo. There is currently no drug protection, but a first vaccine against the Zika virus is to be tested this year.
About one in five infected people fall ill
According to health experts, the Zika virus is not fatal and leads to flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and sometimes skin rash in around 20 percent of those infected. The pathogen is also held responsible for thousands of cases of microcephaly in babies. The children are born with an unusually small head, which can lead to brain malformations. So far, however, it has not been clearly proven that the virus is the trigger for this. In addition, French researchers recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that the pathogen can obviously also be a threat to adults. The virus may not only damage the brains of children. (ad)