MADRID — Spain on Thursday confirmed that a pregnant woman has infected with the Zika virus, 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 travelled to Colombia,” the health ministry announced, adding she is one of seven cases in Spain and all are in good condition.
The mosquito-borne virus — thought to cause birth defects — has seen an outbreak in the Americas and health authorities have warned it could infect up to four million people on the continent and spread worldwide.
Spain’s health ministry nevertheless sought to ease concerns, pointing out that all seven 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.
So far in Europe, all those diagnosed with the disease caught it while travelling abroad, and none of them were pregnant — until now.
The news comes a day after South American health ministers held an emergency meeting in Uruguay on the disease.
The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fuelled fears that it will not be easy to contain.
Brazil said it was sending more than 500,000 personnel out to clean up mosquito breeding grounds and advise people about the disease.
The World Health Organization has declared the spike in serious birth defects an international emergency and launched a global Zika response unit.
Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and the US territory of Puerto Rico have all warned women not to get pregnant.
There is no specific treatment for Zika, and several pharmaceutical companies are developing vaccines against it.
Indian drugs company Bharat Biotech, for instance, said it was developing the world’s first Zika vaccine and was ready to test it on animals.
Zika, which is spreading through the Americas, has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.
The disease starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash. The virus has also been linked to a potentially paralysing nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome in some patients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the microcephaly condition, linked to the mosquito-borne virus, a global public health emergency.
Urinary, respiratory tract infections may double stroke risk
NEW YORK — People who are suffering from urinary or respiratory tract infections may face nearly double the risk of heart attacks and strokes than obesity, researchers have warned.
The study — led by a researcher of Indian origin — found that if the frequency of these common infections causing hospitalisation continues for a longer period it may even lead to death.
Patients diagnosed with any one of these common infections were three times more likely to die than those without prior infection after developing heart disease, and almost twice as likely to die if they had a stroke.
“Our figures suggest that those who are admitted to hospital with a respiratory or urinary tract infection are 40 per cent more likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, and 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke, than patients who have had no such infection, and are considerably less likely to survive from these conditions,” Rahul Potluri, researcher at Britain’s Aston University, said in a statement.
The effects of the common infections were of similar magnitude among the people suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol, researchers said.
“It is notable that infection appears to confer as much, if not more, of a risk for future heart disease and stroke as very well established risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” Potluri added.
Researchers conducted the study over 34,027 patients who had been admitted with a urinary or respiratory tract infection with an age and sex-matched control group without infection.
Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, obesity and tobacco use, as well as medical conditions including excess cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation were also taken into account.Follow @gorkhapost
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