November 13, 2016

Zika is a global epidemic after hitting 75 countries as number of Brits infected reaches 251

This post originally appeared on The Mirror.

Zika has become a global epidemic after hitting 75 ­countries, a report warns.

The number of countries reporting birth defects related to the virus has also doubled in four months from 13 to 26.

Senior doctors, researchers and global health leaders are set to discuss the World Health Organisation ’s findings at an emergency meeting on Friday.

A total of 251 Britons have been infected by the mosquito-borne bug during trips abroad, according to a separate report by Public Health England.

Zika is a serious risk for pregnant women as it can cause babies to be born with microcephaly – an abnormally small head – and other birth defects.

Professor Jimmy Whitworth, of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Zika is widespread globally, and while it is now winter in the northern hemisphere, there is no slowing down of the epidemic overall.

“The concern is over the devastating complications, especially infection in pregnant women who may pass the virus to their unborn babies which may cause microcephaly and other abnormalities.”

Prof Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia, added: “The disease is certainly spreading to new areas. The big issue is how far will it spread and after the outbreaks, will it stay around?”

The current outbreak started in Brazil. It has spread as far as Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Among the countries to report birth defects are Canada, Costa Rica, Slovenia, Spain and the US. Last month we revealed how two Brits had caught the bug in Florida.

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