WHO: Zika virus could spread to Europe in coming months

The risk is still considered moderate in 18 countries of Europe

Baku. 18 May. REPORT.AZ/ The Zika virus is expected to spread in Europe within the next few months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, although it has classified the risk of an outbreak at low to moderate, Report informs referring to the TASS.

First seen in Brazil last year, the mosquito-borne virus has been detected in more than 50 countries and has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size.

WHO Europe, which made the assessment, said the risk should not be underestimated. It is highest on the island of Madeira and the Black Sea coast of Russia and Georgia, where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are responsible for most of the infections are indigenous.

But the risk is still considered moderate in 18 countries where a different mosquito, Aedes albopictus, breeds. Although this mosquito is not as efficient at spreading the virus as Aedes aegypti, it has been shown to be a potential transmitter of the virus in Africa, Mexico and in lab experiments.

France is the most likely to have a Zika outbreak among those countries with a moderate risk, because of factors including the density of its urban population, WHO Europe said.

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