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The ‘Aedes aegypti’ mosquito, responsible for the transmission of the Dengue and Zika viruses, is not present in Europe, and so far all infections detected there are the result of travel abroad. (James Gathany)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio (with information from agencies), Zaragoza, 12 January 2018 – Two women from Spain who traveled to Cuba together and suffered numerous insect bites were diagnosed with Zika, according to an announcement on Thursday from the Aragón Government.

Three days after their return from the island, the women, age 36 and 65, went to a clinic with joint pains and widespread itchy rashes, according to the Aragón weekly epidemiological bulletin. Serum and urine tests were positive for Zika but negative for Dengue and Chikungunya.

The women were told to use condoms and to avoid pregnancy for the next 6 months, as well as not to donate blood until 28 days after the symptoms had passed. A Zika epidemic in 2015 focused attention on this virus,which is associated with microcephaly in babies of infected mothers and in some cases with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed 325 cases of Zika infection as of the middle of the previous year. In 2017, 12 cases were detected.

The Zika virus is not endemic to Spain, so the general recommendation for women who want to get pregnant is to avoid trips to areas where it is present. Other groups most vulnerable to the virus are young children and those chronically ill with other diseases, such as HIV.

In Europe there is no evidence of the presence of Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can be a carrier of the virus, but Aedes albopictus, known as the tiger mosquito and capable of transmitting Dengue, is endemic in the Mediterranean area. This mosquito is potentially also a vector of Zika. However, no cases acquired locally have been detected on the continent to date.

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