[VOA NEWS / LONDON} — The Zika virus, an infectious disease linked to severe birth defects in babies, may spread into Europe as the weather gets warmer, although the risk is low, health officials said on Wednesday.
In its first assessment of the threat Zika poses to the region, the World Health Organization’s European office said the overall risk was small to moderate. It is highest in areas where Aedes mosquitoes thrive, in particular on the island of Madeira and the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea.
“There is a risk of spread of Zika virus disease in the European Region and … this risk varies from country to country, said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.
“We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritize the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak.”
The WHO’s European region covers 53 countries and a population of nearly 900 million. It stretches from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south and from the Atlantic in the west to the Pacific in the east. READ MORE OF THIS STORY