Zika virus ‘on inevitable march into Europe’s holiday hotspots this summer’

The zika virus will reach parts of Europe later this year, health experts have said. It is likely to appear in 18 European countries, including holiday favourites such as France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. If the virus spreads to France, there could be implications for the impending Euro 2016 championships. The warning comes from the World Health Organisation, which says there is a high chance the virus will appear in areas where a type of mosquito called the Aedes aegypti lives.

We call particularly on countries at higher risk to strengthen their national capacities and prioritise the activities that will prevent a large Zika outbreak

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab,  WHO

Experts say Zika, which has spread widely throughout South and Central America, is responsible for a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in newborns having small heads. There have already been cases of Zika reported in Europe in people who have returned from travelling in the Americas, including people whose babies have suffered birth defects. Now, WHO experts say there is a moderate chance the virus will appear in the 18 European countries where Aedes albopictus - is endemic. However, it says there it little chance of it gaining a foothold in another 36 European countries.