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The First Baby In Europe Affected By The Zika Virus Has Been Born

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.
A baby with brain damage linked to the Zika virus has been born in Spain, a case thought to be the first of its kind in Europe.

A hospital source said the baby's mother, who hasn’t been publicly identified, caught the Zika virus while travelling in Latin America, the Guardian reported. The virus is currently widespread in Latin America, particularly Brazil, and the Caribbean.

The baby has microcephaly, a brain-damaging disorder associated with incomplete brain development and resulting in a smaller head than usual. Initial tests confirmed that its head circumference is “smaller than normal” and its health is being constantly monitored, said Felix Castillo, Neonatal Chief at the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, in a press conference.

The parents reportedly found out in May that their baby would be born with microcephaly and they are said to be “very excited” about the birth, the BBC reported.

By contrast, data shows that demand for abortion has soared among pregnant women living in countries affected by Zika, who fear giving birth to babies with severe defects. A pregnant woman in Slovenia had an abortion last month after she was found to have the Zika virus, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, research published yesterday suggested that more than 1.6 million pregnant women could be infected with the virus before the epidemic peters out, with tens of thousands of babies affected. The research, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, said 93.4 million people in total may catch the virus.

With Zika particularly widespread in Brazil and the Rio Olympics due to start next week, people are understandably worried about travelling to the Games. Many athletes have even pulled out of the competition. However, tourists are being reassured that the risk remains low.

Research from the Yale School of Public Health, also published yesterday, found that between just 3 and 37 people out of a possible 500,000 visiting Brazil for the Olympics would be expected to catch the Zika virus.