Cuba declares first acquired case of Zika virus

Cuba declares first Zika infection acquired within the country

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A municipal worker fumigates inside a building to help control the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Caracas, February 2, 2016.

Cuba’s Health Ministry on Tuesday announced the first case of Zika virus acquired in the country, after declaring four cases involving people who had been infected by the virus while they were abroad.

Zika is an infectious virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito connected to brain damage and physical development problems in new born babies known as microcephaly. The virus was not a crisis in Brazil until this year, when health experts linked it to a surge in cases of microcephaly.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus usually gives rise to mild symptoms in adults such as a low fever, headaches and joint pain.

Its quick spread has caused alarm because of its association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition in which the body's immune system attacks a part of the nervous system that controls muscle strength.

Brazil has been the country worst hit by the Zika outbreak, with about 1.5 million people infected and 745 confirmed cases of microcephaly in children born to women infected with the virus while pregnant.

According to the World Health Organization 41 countries have reported the transmission of the Zika virus within their territory since last year, and nine have reported an increase in Guillain-Barre cases.

A rise in microcephaly has so far "only been reported in Brazil and French Polynesia," according to the World Health Organisation.

There is no immediate vaccine or treatment for Zika infections.

TRTWorld and agencies