A pregnant woman in Spain has tested positive for the Zika virus, in what is thought to be Europe’s first case.
Spanish officials confirmed today the woman is among seven people identified as being infected with the virus after visiting affected countries.
The virus has been linked with a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads.
As a result, it is most dangerous for pregnant women – and expectant mothers have been warned not to travel to affected areas.
Zika, carried by mosquitoes, has recently rampaged through the Caribbean and Latin America.
However an estimated 80 per cent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.
The Health Ministry said in a statement today that the woman, who had traveled to Colombia, was presumably infected during the trip and is in her second trimester of pregnancy.
‘One of the patients diagnosed in (the northeastern region of) Catalonia is a pregnant woman, who showed symptoms after having travelled to Colombia.
She is one of seven cases in Spain and all are in good condition.’
It did not further disclose details about her condition or the condition of her unborn child.
The ministry says the number of cases diagnosed so far are within expectations and do not pose a risk for the virus to be spread in Spain.
World Health Organisation officials have predicted that as many as four million people could be infected with Zika this year.
The virus, which causes symptoms including rash, fever, conjunctivitis and headache, has now been linked to birth defects in children born to mothers infected while they are pregnant.
Specifically, the virus has been linked to microcephaly – in which a newborn’s head is smaller than normal and the brain may not have developed properly.