Zika disease warning for pregnant Irish tourists as case discovered in Europe

The virus has been linked to microcephaly
The virus has been linked to microcephaly

Pregnant women are being urged to stay away from areas which have been affected by the Zika virus.

Brazil is in the midst of an unprecedented outbreak and health experts are warning that it could spread to all of the Americas.

The disease has been linked to birth defects in children born to mothers infected while pregnant.

It causes symptoms including rash, fever, conjunctivitis and headaches.

More than 4,000 children have now been born with microcephaly in Brazil as a result of the Zika outbreak.

Microcephaly causes the child to be born with an underdeveloped brain.

The virus has been found in 21 countries in south and central America.

Danish officials have now confirmed that the Zika has reached Europe as a tourist tested positive for the virus after returning from southern and central America.

Aarhus University Hospital said the patient ran a fever, had a headache and muscle aches and was found to have the virus on Tuesday.

The hospital released no further details about the patient but said there is little risk of it spreading in Denmark because the mosquito carrying the virus is not found in the country.

Romit Jain, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, Sweden, said there have been confirmed cases of imported Zika virus infections in Germany and Britain.

A Zika virus case was also confirmed in Sweden last summer, said Sara Rorbecker of the Swedish Public Health Agency. She said the patient contracted the virus while travelling, adding that there was nothing "dramatic" about the case.

Zika virus is not a notifiable disease in the European Union, meaning that EU countries are not required to report cases to the ECDC. Therefore, there is wide variation on reporting by member states.