IT IS very sad to have to report that the first identified case of Zika virus in a pregnant woman in Europe has been diagnosed in a woman living in Catalonia who has just returned to Spain from Columbia according to a release made on February 4 by the health ministry.
The only piece of good news is that this unfortunate woman and the other six people in Spain who have been affected all appear to have contracted the virus in South America and there is no evidence that the mosquito responsible for passing it on has reached Europe.
Whilst the effects of the virus are generally quite mild and give symptoms similar to a minor case of flu, evidence from Brazil which has been supported by the World Health Organisation is that pregnant women who catch the virus can give birth to children with microcephaly which inhibits the growth of the brain.
Indeed the WHO has declared this as a global emergency and also advised that no blood donations should be accepted from people who have travelled to Zika affected areas within the last month.
There has been one case identified in the USA of a male being passed the virus by an infected female through sexual intercourse, but this is not considered to be a serious threat and is perhaps the exception that tests the rule.