The Latest: Chile reports its first 3 confirmed Zika cases
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The Latest: Chile reports its first 3 confirmed Zika cases
Feb. 03, 2016
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the battle against the Zika virus (all times local):
Hours after reporting Chile's first confirmed Zika infection, Chilean authorities have listed two more cases from the virus that is spreading rapidly in Latin America.
The Chilean Health Ministry says all three Zika cases reported Tuesday were contracted outside Chile. It says one person was infected while traveling in Venezuela, one in Colombia and one in Brazil. All are recovering.
Chile doesn't have infestations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can carry such diseases as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
The World Health Organization says Zika is likely to spread to every country in the Americas where the Aedes aegypti is found. That is every nation but Canada and Chile.
Brazilian officials have lowered the country's number of suspected microcephaly cases, to 3,670 from 3,893 on Jan. 20. Brazil's Heath Ministry says the rare brain defect in babies has been confirmed in 404 of those cases.
The ministry says microcephaly cases since Oct. 22 have been confirmed in 156 cities in nine states, most in Brazil's impoverished northeast. That region is the epicenter of the outbreak of the Zika virus.
The report published Tuesday says 17 of the 404 confirmed microcephaly cases have been linked to Zika infections.
Infants with microcephaly have smaller than normal heads and their brains do not develop properly. Many fetuses with the condition are miscarried, and others die during birth or shortly after. Those who survive suffer from developmental and health problems.
The Brazilian Health Ministry says Brazil's health minister and the U.S. secretary of health and human Services have discussed ways the two countries can work together to create a vaccine against the Zika virus and combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus.
An emailed statement from the ministry says the Health Minister Marcelo Castro and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathes Burwell talked by phone Tuesday.
It says the two also agreed to accelerate current investigations into infections causes by arboviruses like Zika that may be linked to cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The statement says technicians of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet with technicians of the Brazilian Health Ministry and of three biomedical and clinical research centers. The meeting is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Brazil.
A Brazilian city is cancelling its Carnival celebrations and will use the money set aside for the annual festivities to fight the mosquito that carries the fast-spreading Zika virus and other diseases.
The Capivari municipality in Sao Paulo state says on its website that the $25,000 saved will be spent on prevention measures, including eradicating mosquito breeding grounds.
Carnival is Brazil's biggest popular party. But the Zika virus has recently been linked with a spiraling rise in reported cases of microcephaly — a rare birth defect causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and can lead to lasting developmental problems.
Brazil's government has sent about 220,000 troops to battle the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Health officials say a patient in Dallas County, Texas, has acquired the Zika virus through sex.
Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday it received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient was infected after having sexual contact with an ill person who returned from a country where Zika was present.
The Zika virus is usually spread through mosquito bites. Investigators have been exploring the possibility the virus also can be spread through sex. It was found in one man's semen in Tahiti, and there was report of a Colorado researcher who caught the virus overseas and apparently spread it to his wife back home in 2008.
Health officials note there are no reports of Zika being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas county.
Nicaragua is confirming its first two cases of the Zika virus in pregnant women.
Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo says four women have tested positive for the virus in the Central American nation, including two who are three and one-half and four months pregnant. That brings the country's total known cases of Zika to 15.
Murillo says the country is monitoring World Health Organization recommendations and has directed local health authorities to pay close attention to pregnant women who may have contracted Zika.
She noted Tuesday that not all pregnant women infected with Zika give birth to babies with the rare condition known as microcephaly.
Chile is reporting its first case of a person infected with the Zika virus that has spread fast throughout Latin America.
The Chilean Infectology Society confirmed the case Tuesday without providing any details about the patient. It only said that the virus had been transmitted while the person was abroad and that it was first recorded several weeks ago.
There are no cases of local infection so far. Some Chilean travelers have been suspected of carrying the virus but this is Chile's first confirmed case of someone infected abroad.
The World Health Organization says Zika is likely to spread to every country in the Americas where the mosquito that carries it can be found except for Canada and continental Chile.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is promising that no resources will be spared in the fight against the quickly spreading Zika virus, believed to be the cause of smaller than normal heads in some infants.
Rousseff addressed Congress on Tuesday, the day after the World Health Organization deemed the virus an international emergency. Researchers believe that a spike in cases of microcephaly, or babies born with small heads, has been caused by the virus.
The president says: "resources will not be lacking."
She has recounted what Latin America's most populous country had done since the outbreak was detected last year, such as sending troops to spray areas infested by mosquitoes.
Rousseff is facing impeachment proceedings and low popularity amid an economic crisis, but says she expects Congress' support.
Swiss International Air Lines says female flight attendants and pilots won't be required to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, if they don't want to because of the Zika virus outbreak.
The Swiss carrier, a subsidiary of Germany's Lufthansa, says in a statement that it's advising any pilot or member of cabin crew who is "in the phase of family planning" to speak with their gynecologist before flying to Brazil.
Tuesday's statement said the company will "until further notice" take into account requests of such employees who ask not to be deployed to Brazil. Sao Paulo is Swiss' main destination in South America.
The World Health Organization on Monday declared a global emergency over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas.
This item has been corrected to show the accurate spelling of the city's name is Sao Paulo, not Sao Paolo.
UNICEF is asking for $9 million for its programs in the Americas to curb the spread of Zika virus and lessen its impact on babies and their families across the region. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the U.N. children's agency said it would focus on educating communities in Brazil on how to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and how to wipe out their breeding sites. Dr. Heather Papowitz, UNICEF's senior adviser for health emergencies, commented: "Although there is still no conclusive evidence of the causal link between microcephaly and the Zika virus, there is enough concern to warrant immediate action,"
The Middle East's biggest airline is offering refunds to passengers booked on flights to countries affected by the Zika virus.
Emirates said in a statement Tuesday there is "no impact on operations" for flights from its Dubai base to three South American cities: Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It is nonetheless offering passengers the chance to get refunds or rebook to alternative destinations in the Americas, saying "special provisions have been put in place for customers advised to avoid the affected regions based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidance." The offer covers tickets issued by Jan. 29 for travel through April 30.
Fast-growing Emirates has emerged as a major long-haul carrier, and is the biggest operator of the Boeing 777 and the double-decker Airbus A380.
Officials say laboratory tests have confirmed a fourth case Zika virus in Spain.
The southeastern regional government of Murcia said Tuesday that tests carried out by the National Microbiology Center confirmed the case of a man treated two weeks ago at a regional hospital after visiting an unspecified country affected by the virus.
The man, who was not identified but was said to be middle-aged and a Spanish resident, has been given the all clear after been treated for the virus and to avoid contagion.
The other three cases in Spain also concerned people who had traveled to affected regions in Latin America.
WHO is recommending that visitors and residents in affected areas, especially pregnant women, take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that transmit the virus.
Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur says it is launching an effort to research and develop a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus.
Sanofi's announcement Tuesday comes the day after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas.
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika, which is in the same family of viruses as dengue. Sanofi made the first licensed dengue vaccine shot, licensed last year in Brazil after years of scientific struggle to develop one.
France-based Sanofi said in a statement Tuesday that its experience with the dengue vaccine "can be rapidly leveraged to help understand the spread" of Zika and "potentially speed identification of a vaccine candidate for further clinical development."