First Slovak suspected of having Zika virus

THE PUBLIC Health Authority (ÚVZ) has reported the first case in Slovakia of a patient suspected of being infected with Zika virus.

The virus can be transmitted via the placenta from mother to child.The virus can be transmitted via the placenta from mother to child.(Source: TASR/AP)

The patient in question is a woman hospitalised in Prešov, where she was admitted a day earlier. The woman returned from South America with symptoms of an unspecified virus but not showing signs of serious infection, the TASR newswire reported on February 25

Public broadcaster RTVS was the first to report on the situation and ÚVZ spokesperson Lenka Skalická confirmed this to TASR

“Samples of urine and blood were taken from the patient today in order to identify the presence of the Zika virus,” said the hospital’s spokesperson Renáta Cenková, adding that the samples will be analysed in cooperation with a laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, and that there was no information about when the test results will be available.

“Concerning the virus, the authority has prepared a proposal for a regulation from the Slovak Chief Health Inspector that is currently in the process of being approved by competent experts,” said Skalická.

Slovaks who have visited countries affected by Zika are prohibited from donating blood for 28 days after leaving these countries, the National Transfusion Service (NTS) reports on its website.

The areas of concern are countries in South and Central America, the Caribbean and also Cape Verde (about 570 km off the coast of Western Africa). Brazil was the first country to report infection with Zika via blood transfusion.

In its travel advice, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry recommends that women reconsider planned journeys to affected areas. Many experts think that Zika is responsible for an increase in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads, a defect known as microcephaly.

The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, specifically the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti). This species is not widespread in Europe, according to health inspectors.

The virus can be transmitted via the placenta from mother to child, there have also been confirmed cases of transmission via sexual intercourse, and also, as already mentioned, by blood transfusion.

According to the available information, up to 80 percent of infected patients have no clinical symptoms and the person sometimes does not know they have the virus. Approximately 20 percent of the infected experience symptoms.

Symptoms are usually mild and last from two to seven days. These include an increased temperature, aching joints and also swelling of the smaller joints on the hands and feet, as well as general flu-like symptoms. The incubation period is 3-12 days.

“Treatment of symptoms involves taking medication against pain and fever and consuming sufficient water", said Skalická, as quoted by TASR. “There isn’t a specific treatment for the virus yet.”

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