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Brazil-type Zika confirmed in Africa for first time

The Zika virus blamed for neurological disorders and birth abnormalities in Brazil has been confirmed to be circulating in Africa for the first time after being sequenced from a sample from Cape Verde, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

“The findings are of concern because it is further proof that the outbreak is spreading beyond South America and is on the doorstep of Africa,” said WHO’s Africa director Matshidiso Moeti.

“This information will help African countries to re-evaluate their level of risk and adapt and increase their levels of preparedness,” she said. She said she would not recommend strict travel restrictions to try to stop the spread of the disease.

The Zika virus was originally identified in 1947 in Uganda. It was relatively unknown until 2007, when there was an outbreak of the virus in Micronesia. That Asian type is the one that made its way to Brazil in 2015.

The Zika virus, which is transmitted mainly via mosquitoes, has been identified in the US but only in people who’ve recently travelled to Zika hot spots. Once infected with Zika, only about 20% of people ever show symptoms, which most commonly include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. There is no vaccine or treatment available for the virus.


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