First case of Zika virus reported in Russia – consumer protection agency

© Valery Melnikov
Consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has confirmed the first case of the Zika virus in Russia. The woman infected returned to Moscow from a holiday in the Dominican Republic, and was admitted to hospital after she spiked a fever and displayed a rash.

“Thanks to strengthened preventive measures against the Zika virus on Russian territory, and to the readiness of medical institutions to diagnose and assist patients, the infected woman was immediately hospitalized with the recommendation to screen for Zika fever. A lab test using a domestic diagnosis kit showed the presence of the Zika virus in the patient’s biological fluids,” reads the agency’s statement.

The woman, whose name hasn’t been revealed, started feeling worse after several days in Moscow. She had a rash and was running a temperature, some of the common symptoms that occur in Zika patients.

Since her admission the woman has been held in an isolation ward. Her condition was reported as ‘satisfactory,’ but it was later reported that she would soon be released from the hospital.

“The women will be discharged from the hospital in the nearest future,” said the chief infectious disease doctor of Moscow on Monday, adding that “no lethal cases of the virus have been known - it’s not dangerous in everyday life, there is no epidemic in Russia.”

Since the woman was diagnosed, doctors have been constantly monitoring her family members, but found “no clinical manifestations” associated with the infection. Tests for Zika also came back negative.

The watchdog said there were no health risks to passengers who boarded the same flight with the Zika patient.

“Upon arrival all necessary antiepidemic measures were taken, there is no danger to passengers’ health,” the agency stressed.

The outbreak of the Zika virus was first reported in Brazil in December last year. Since then the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a “global public health emergency.” According to WHO estimates, it could affect up to four million people. The majority of the cases have been reported in the countries and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean.

READ MORE: Hawaii declares health emergency to fight mosquitoes carrying Zika, dengue fever

The virus is believed to be particularly damaging for fetuses. Researchers suspect it may cause microcephaly, a rare condition where newborn babies have abnormally small heads and brains. In Brazil, over 4,300 suspected and confirmed cases of the birth defect have been investigated to determine their mosquito-borne nature. So far, researchers have found evidence of Zika in less than one percent of the cases.

Several governments, among them Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and the Philippines have issued warnings for women, advising them to postpone pregnancy until the end of the outbreak.