Three new cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) emerged in the United Kingdom, health officials said. Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that three UK travelers got infected when they visited Central America countries and were diagnosed when they arrived home.
The agency did not provide further details about the new cases but said that the Zika virus does not occur naturally in the UK. The virus is usually seen in countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The United States confirmed cases in Florida and Illinois.
"ZIKV does not occur naturally in the UK. As of 18 January 2016, three cases associated with travel to Colombia, Suriname and Guyana have been diagnosed in UK travellers," PHE posted on its website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned pregnant women against travelling to countries with confirmed cases of Zika virus. The virus cause serious health defects such as microcephaly.
CDC issued an Alert 2 Travel Health Notices for people who plan to travel to Zika-stricken countries. This means that enhanced precaution needs to be practiced especially among pregnant women.
People who get infected with the virus usually develop low-grade fever, joint pains, rash, red eyes or conjunctivitis, headache, eye pain and muscle pain. Though the symptoms are similar to that of dengue fever and chikungunya, Zika virus may appear less severe because it goes away on its own. The effects on pregnant women, however, are another facet of the disease.
Brazil, the country that first reported the case of Zika virus in 2015, recorded an increased number of babies born with health defects. Microcephaly is a complication that is irreversible and is likely to result in developmental probelms for the baby. It is characterized by a small head, resulting in the brain not properly and completely developing.
The virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites and health officials urge travelers to take extra precaution to protect against being bitten. If traveling is unavoidable or they live in areas where Zika virus infections have been reported, pregnant women are advised to take dependable and meticulous measures to prevent mosquito bites.