The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) produced a policy briefing on Monday highlighting preparedness measures to minimize the risk of Zika virus spreading in continental Europe.
The briefing is primarily to protect pregnant women and those who wish to become pregnant, due to the evidence of association between Zika virus and congenital malformations and abnormalities of the brain of the developing fetus.
Zika transmission in Europe is possible during the summer months due to the abundance of Aedes alvopictus mosquito population and because the ecological and climatic factors favor transmission from one to another. Due to the climate, people living in the Autonomous Region of Madeira in Portugal have a higher chance of catching the Zika virus compared to other areas of continual Europe.
The numbers of people who catch the virus through sexual transmission is also expected to rise, as a result of the number of people traveling to and from regions of the world where the virus is most prevalent.
ECDC warned that a failure to properly prepare for the virus could lead to the disease spread more widely, resulting in greater costs for mosquito control and care for affected people, along with greater concern from the general public.