Zika virus infects Danish tourist
EU countries are not required to report cases
A Danish tourist has been infected by the Zika virus after visiting southern and central America, Danish hospital officials say, but authorities said Wednesday it was not the first case in Europe.
In a statement Tuesday, the Aarhus University Hospital said the patient ran a fever, had a headache and muscle aches and was discovered as having the virus on Tuesday.
The hospital released no further details about the patient but it says that there is little risk of it spreading in Denmark because the mosquito carrying the virus isn't found in the country.
Romit Jain, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, says 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 — a woman of non-fertile age — had contracted the virus when 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.
The Zika virus, discovered decades ago in Africa, was long thought to be more of a nuisance illness, with symptoms generally much milder than its cousin dengue.
However, amid a large Zika outbreak in Brazil, researchers began reporting an increase in microcephaly — babies born with abnormally small heads.
Meanwhile, Venezuela's medical community is demanding the government publish statistics about the Zika virus and warning it could already be alarmingly widespread.
Venezuela's Ministry of Health has so far limited itself to confirming the presence of the mosquito-borne illness in the South American country. The ministry stopped publishing data on all epidemic diseases a year ago.
Former Health Minister Jose Felix Oletta says it is unacceptable that the government wait so long to release Zika statistics and begin working to contain the virus.
Non-government organizations have reported a sharp increase in unusual fevers in the country.
Medical professionals in the highly polarized country tend to lean toward the opposition. They blame the socialist administration for widespread shortages of medical supplies.
On Tuesday, the opposition-controlled Congress declared Venezuela was in a humanitarian health crisis.