COPENHAGEN: Den­mark and Switzerland joined on Wednesday a growing number of European countries to report Zika infections among travellers returning from Latin America, where the mosquito-borne virus has been blamed for a surge in birth defects.

“A Danish tourist who travelled to Central and South America was diagnosed on his return with the Zika virus,” a hospital in eastern Denmark said in a statement.

The Danish patient was a young man who was expected to make a full recovery, the head of Aarhus hospital, Lars Ostergaard, told public broadcaster DR.

Two people returning to Switzerland from Haiti and Colombia were also diagnosed with the virus, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said.

Neither was pregnant and neither required hospital care, the statement said.

Health watchdogs in a string of European countries meanwhile said they had recorded Zika cases dating back to as early as March last year.

The Netherlands confirmed 10 cases and Britain five, all among people returning from South America.

In Italy, the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Disease said four cases were recorded in March 2015, while in Portugal, the health ministry said four Portuguese had been infected.

All eight had been travelling in Brazil.

A woman in the Swedish capital Stockholm was diagnosed with the virus in July last year, the Swedish Public Health Agency confirmed on Wednesday.

“The symptoms were treated and the woman recovered,” said Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of microbiology at the health agency.

In Spain, two cases of Zika were detected in late 2015, authorities in the north-western region of Catalonia confirmed on Friday.

Both were South American women — aged 30 and 45 — who had travelled to the continent over Christmas. Diagnosed on their return, they have since fully recovered. Neither was pregnant.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2016

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