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Zika likely in Europe tourism hotspots


World Health Organization warns travellers
The Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitos and causes severe birth defects, will probably spread to parts of Europe, including parts of the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts and the Balkans, the World Health Organization is warning.
Highest-risk areas include popular holiday destinations such as the Portuguese island of Madeira, Greece, Turkey and Italy, as well as Balkan countries like Croatia and the Black Sea coasts of Russia, Georgia and Bulgaria.
The virus has been detected in more than 50 countries and is linked to thousands of cases of a rare defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads. The WHO report said that the species of mosquito responsible for carrying most of the infections commonly breeds in these areas.
The fear is that the virus could be transmitted by travellers from infected regions to areas not yet infected.
“We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak,” stressed Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.
One of the report’s authors, Joao Pires, told RFE/RL that people going to high-risk regions should use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved clothing.
“That is what we are advising travellers. When going to countries and territories with an ongoing transmission, they have to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes,” he said.


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