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Zika virus unlikely to hit Sweden this summer

Published onsdag 18 maj 2016 kl 12.36
WHO: low to moderate for Europe this summer
(1:07 min)
Aedes mosquitoes in a laboratory. File photo: Ricardo Mazalan / AP / TT.
Aedes mosquitoes in a laboratory. File photo: Ricardo Mazalan / AP / TT.

The World Health Organization called on Europe to be prepared for the possible spread of the Zika virus this summer as warmer weather brings out mosquitoes throughout the continent.

The health organization said mosquitoes that carry and transmit the virus can already be found along the northeast coast of the Black Sea and countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

But those bugs, the Aedes mosquitoes, are highly unlikely to find a foothold in Sweden thanks to its cooler climate.

"Even if the Aedes albopictus (mosquito) came here it probably won't be in large populations, since they require fairly high temperatures for a long time to be able to multiply in large quantities," mosquito expert Anders Lindström at Sweden's National Veterinary Institute told news agency TT.

The largest outbreak of Zika virus disease ever recorded took place last year in South America. Although the virus itself poses little risk to healthy adults, it has been linked to severe birth defects in babies, namely microcephaly.

Overall, the World Health Organization said the risk of an outbreak in Europe this summer was small to moderate. Either way, it remained ready to react.

"We stand ready to support all European countries on the ground in case of a Zika virus outbreak," Nedret Emiroglu, director of communicable diseases and health security at the WHO's European office, told Swedish Radio.

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