Egypt warns pregnant women against travelling to S. America over Zika fears

Ahram Online , Wednesday 3 Feb 2016

The Egyptian health ministry advises women who are expecting not to travel to Zika hotspots since the virus is believed to cause serious birth defects

A municipal worker sprays insecticide at the neighborhood of Afogados in Recife, Brazil, February 2, 2016 (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian Ministry of Health warned on Wednesday pregnant Egyptian women against travelling to South and Central America over risks of contracting the Zika virus.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that a surge in serious birth defects in South America was "strongly suspected" of being caused by the Zika virus and constituted an international health emergency.

WHO explained that the mosquito-borne virus is strongly believed to be connected to a surge in cases of microcephaly, a condition where a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain.

Egyptian health ministry spokesperson Khaled Maghed advised in a statement anyone returning to Egypt from South or Central America who experiences symptoms consistent with the virus should head to the nearest fever hospital.

The clinical symptoms of Zika are usually mild and often similar to dengue, a fever which is transmitted by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito. This has given rise to fears that Zika could spread to parts of the world where dengue is commonplace.

Egypt's health ministry has launched the "105" hotline for inquiries on the virus.

According to WHO, since May 2015 the virus has spread in 21 countries and territories in the Americas.

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