Zika Virus Found in Pregnant Spanish Woman

Spain confirmed Thursday that a pregnant woman was diagnosed with the Zika virus, the first known case in Europe.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that she was presumably infected during a trip to Colombia and is in her second trimester of pregnancy.

The woman is among seven people who showed symptoms of Zika after visiting affected countries, the ministry said, adding that she was under medical treatment in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Colombia’s National Health Institute said last week that the country has recorded 20,297 cases of Zika infection, including 2,116 in pregnant women.

In a statement released on January 30, the institute recommended that couples delay pregnancy for six to eight months.

There is currently no treatment for Zika. But a number of global pharmaceutical houses are rapidly working on a vaccine.

In the face of the recent increase in cases, the presidents of the United States and Brazil have agreed on the importance of collaborative efforts to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said Thursday that the two countries are working together to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, but warned it might take some time.

«We do not have a vaccine yet,» said Rousseff. «We are striving for a vaccine. We established a partnership with the U.S. government. I spoke with President Obama about our developing a vaccine as quickly as possible.»

Brazil reported its first Zika case in 2015. The mosquito-borne disease linked to birth defects in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America.

Fourteen officials from the region, including Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Castro, whose country has been hit hardest by the virus, held emergency talks in Montevideo, Uruguay Wednesday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus is strongly suspected to cause microcephaly and has called the Zika virus «a global health emergency.»

Brazil confirmed Wednesday that the number of newborns with microcephaly passed 4,000. But experts are puzzled why microcephaly is nearly non-existent in other Latin American countries where the virus is present.