‘Zika epidemic still concern for public health’

Stockholm, Nov 1 (IANS) The Zika epidemic remains a significant concern for public health, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said in its latest assessment.

The latest update of ECDC’s rapid risk assessment on the Zika epidemic looked at the recent epidemiological and scientific information in light of the risk to Europe and European citizens, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the assessment on Monday, “pregnant women are still considered the most important risk group and the primary target for preventive measures because Zika virus infection during pregnancy is associated with intrauterine central nervous system infection, congenital malformations, and foetal death.”

“It is expected that Zika-infected travelers will continue to return to the EU. It is not expected that this will lead to local vector-borne transmission in the coming months because the seasonal conditions for Zika virus transmission by vectors will become unfavorable,” it said

“Despite concerns, there have been no reported cases of vector-borne autochthonous transmission in Europe to date, ” it added.

Although continuing, vector-borne transmission seems to be slowing in Central American countries and the Caribbean.

The outbreak continues in Mexico and the southern part of the US, as weather conditions still favor seasonal vector activity.

In addition to the Americas, cases have been reported in some Asian countries.

ECDC has updated and clarified its options for risk reduction, most notably for returning travelers from areas with reported Zika transmission in the past three months, to prevent sexual transmission.

The ECDC, headquartered in the Swedish capital since 2005, works with health authorities across Europe to fight infectious diseases.