Peru Braces for Spreading Zika Virus as First Case Confirmed

Updated on
  • Venezuelan man contracted disease during visit to Colombia
  • Ecuador has confirmed 22 cases in six provences this month

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Peru confirmed its first case of the Zika virus that’s spreading across the Americas and said its hospitals are expected to face more cases.

A Venezuelan man is being treated at a hospital in Lima after contracting the virus during a visit to Colombia, Health Minister Anibal Velasquez said at a news conference Friday in Lima.

Velasquez said the country will control infection rates by taking the same measures used in recent years to contain the spread of mosquito-borne pathogens responsible for chikunguya and dengue diseases. The aedes aegypti mosquito is present in 19 of Peru’s 24 states, including parts of Lima, and was responsible for 180 cases of chikunguya since the disease first arrived in Peru last year, he said.

The Zika virus may be linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes brain damage and abnormally small heads. The once-rare virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas since first being reported in Brazil last May.

In neighboring Ecuador, the government has confirmed 22 cases this month in six provinces in the nation’s Andean foothills and Pacific coastal regions, including the Galapagos Islands, the country’s Health Ministry said Thursday. Authorities are asking locals to eliminate pools of standing water around homes and delay pregnancies until more is known about the effects of the virus. 

— With assistance by Nathan Gill

(Updates with Ecuador cases in fifth paragraph.)
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