Danish hospital patient infected by Zika virus

European authorities play down risks as Obama calls for rapid development of tests and vaccines

Danish hospital patient infected by Zika virus

A Danish tourist has been infected by the Zika virus after visiting southern and central America, Danish hospital officials said yesterday.

But authorities said yesterday that it was not the first case in Europe.

Aarhus University Hospital said the patient ran a fever, had a headache and muscle aches and was found to have the virus on Tuesday.

The hospital released no further details about the patient but said there is little risk of it spreading in Denmark because the mosquito carrying the virus is not found in the country.

Romit Jain, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, Sweden, said there have been confirmed cases of imported Zika virus infections in Germany and Britain.

A Zika virus case was also confirmed in Sweden last summer, said Sara Rorbecker of the Swedish Public Health Agency.

She said the patient contracted the virus while travelling, adding that there was nothing “dramatic” about the case.

Zika virus is not a notifiable disease in the European Union, meaning that EU countries are not required to report cases to the ECDC.

Therefore, there is wide variation on reporting by member states.

US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines, and treatments to fight the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and could spread to the US in warmer months.

US health officials are stepping up efforts to study the link between Zika virus infections and birth defects, citing a recent study estimating the virus could reach regions where 60% of the US population lives.

Mr Obama was briefed on the potential spread of the virus by his top health and national security officials on Tuesday.

The virus has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya, which causes mild fever and rash.

An estimated 80% of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.

On Monday, the World Health Organization predicted the virus would spread to all countries across the Americas except for Canada and Chile.

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