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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Third case of Zika virus confirmed in patient returned from Barbados

Published 18/02/2016 | 16:48

So far 36 countries have been affected by the outbreak and WHO officials have predicted as many as four million people could be infected this year
So far 36 countries have been affected by the outbreak and WHO officials have predicted as many as four million people could be infected this year

A third case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Ireland in a patient who returned from Barbados.

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Two other people who returned here from Columbia since the beginning of the year also tested positive for the virus.

It also emerged today that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre was informed of another person who had the virus here after coming back from Columbia some time last year.

The Zika virus has hit the headlines all over the world as people fear it could be linked to microcephaly in babies, which causes them be born with abnormally small heads.

The explosive spread of the virus is now at the centre of a public health crisis in South and Central America, has led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare an international emergency.

However, Dr Roberto Bertollini, WHO’s chief scientist and EU representative, said  that Zika was a "mild disease" that they are ready to deal with.

Asked how long it will take to develop a vaccine he said:” I think it will be successful. We now have a lot of experience with Ebola vaccination. We have been able to develop an almost complete Ebola vaccine in a very short time. We are pretty optimistic that we will develop at least a pre-vaccine suitable for trials in the next 15-18 months. The Ebola case was a major lesson for many people. There has been a major change in attitude.

He added:”The virus was isolated in malformed babies so the association is very strong. But of course we cannot exclude other factors such as genetic factors or other viruses”.

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