Zika virus cases reported in Ireland and US as Jamaica warning reinstated

Zika virus cases reported in Ireland and US as Jamaica warning reinstated

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A warning of cases of the Zika virus emerging in Jamaica has been reinstated just 24 hours after the alert was dropped.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed yesterday that cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been reported in the country this year.

The about-turn came after the FCO previously removed a warning about Zika in Jamaica just days after it was originally issued.

Zika has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

Like other Zika infected countries, the FCO’s travel advice for Jamaica now states: “You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre, particularly if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and seek advice from a health professional.”

The latest development came as it was reported that two cases of Zika had been confirmed in Ireland.

Reports also suggested that a sexually-transmitted case of Zika had been diagnosed in Dallas, Texas.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive said a man and a woman had both travelled to a country affected by the virus and both had fully recovered. The two cases were not related to each other.

Apart from the risks to unborn babies, Zika is not considered dangerous. Common symptoms - which can last for up to a week - include fever, rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

The HSE in Ireland told Sky News: "The finding of Zika cases in Ireland is not an unexpected event as many other European countries have reported cases as a result of travel to affected areas.

"Currently, outbreaks of Zika virus are occurring in some countries in South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands."

It added: "Infection when it occurs usually results in a mild illness that typically lasts between two to seven days.

"The majority of people who become infected by Zika virus have no symptoms. Zika virus is spread through the bite of a mosquito that is in certain countries but which is not present in Ireland.

"While almost all cases of Zika virus are acquired via mosquito bites, one case of sexual transmission of Zika virus has been reported internationally, however the risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus is thought to be extremely low.

"If you become ill within two weeks after your return to Ireland from an affected area, you should contact your doctor for assessment and let him/her know of your recent travel history to an affected area."

The World Travel & Tourism Council has also advised travellers to follow health and travel advisories.

The organisation says people should also take “appropriate precautions” to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquito when travelling to places with a high risk of infection.

The WTTC emphasised that the World Health Organisation has not called for any travel and trade bans with destinations where the Zika virus is active.

The WTTC said: “It is too early to comment on the impact of the Zika virus to the travel and tourism sector.

“Tourism boards, health organisations, and companies across the sector are working together on formulating an appropriate response in every country impacted.

“Most airlines, cruise lines, and tour operators from originating countries are being flexible, by offering alternative plans or refunds to pregnant women and their families who prefer not to travel to affected areas at this time.”


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