komarac, zika.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Day Donaldson, used under CC BY

France's health minister said Wednesday that two overseas territories are entering an epidemic phase of Zika, and that measures have been taken to combat the spread of the virus.

France has warned people to take protective measures when traveling to overseas territories, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said.

The World Health Organization advised European countries to take action against the mosquito-borne virus given its increased risk of spread with the onset of spring and summer.

Touraine said that the overseas territories of Martinique and French Guiana have reported 2,287 and 245 potential cases, respectively. One hundred of those were confirmed in a laboratory, she said.

Ten cases have been reported in Guadaloupe, and one in Saint Martin.

Additionally, Touraine said that one of the nine cases reported in France since the start of the year has a "neurological form" of infection. But she added that the risk of an epidemic is low, because the mosquito that transmits the virus does not frequently appear on the mainland.

In the Copenhagen-based office of the WHO, head Zsuzsanna Jakab said that several travellers to Europe had been infected after visiting affected areas, for instance in Latin America. Jakab said the disease had not been transmitted within Europe due to the absence of the mosquito vector.

Zika has been compared to dengue and chikungunya, two other tropical diseases carried by mosquitos. But in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, health officials said they had confirmed the first case of virus transmission through sexual contact.

France said a risk of sexual transmission has not been formally established, but recommended the use of condoms in the region.

On Monday, the WHO declared a public health emergency over the Zika virus, which has mainly affected Brazil and other South American nations.

While infection from the virus often presents only minor symptoms, scientists suspect it may be linked to congenital microcephaly. Causation has not, however, been scientifically proven.

In Ireland, health authorities confirmed two unrelated infections among people who traveled to Zika-affected countries but said both adults are recovered and neither was at risk of pregnancy.

"The finding of Zika cases in Ireland is not an unexpected event as many other European countries have reported cases as a result of travel to affected areas," Irish health authorities said in a statement.

Concerns over a rapid spread of the virus are largely due to lack of vaccines and quick, reliable diagnostic testing. There is currently no known treatment for the virus, which is most frequently carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Related stories

Latest news

No early parliamentary election in Serbia this year - media

There will be no early parliamentary election in Serbia this year, electronic media in Belgrade said on Sunday.

Full list of 2017 Oscar winners

A list of winners at the 89th Academy Awards:

"Moonlight" wins best picture after on-stage Oscars mixup

The coming-of-age drama about an African American boy growing up gay in a poor neighbourhood in Miami was made for just 1.5 million dollars. Its director and co-writer, Barry Jenkins, hadn't made a film in years. And it was up for the best picture prize against "La La Land," the smash hit musical that tied the record for Oscar nominations this year.

Emma Stone is best actress in winning night for 'La La Land'

Emma Stone won the best actress Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards for her role in the movie musical "La La Land" on Sunday.

Casey Affleck wins best actor at Oscars

Casey Affleck won the best actor trophy at the Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday for his portrayal of a taciturn janitor with a troubled past in "Manchester by the Sea."

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.