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UK-bound flights from countries hit by Zika to be bug zapped


ALL AIRCRAFTS returning to the UK from countries currently affected by active Zika virus transmission will be sprayed with insecticide as part of a comprehensive government response to the disease.

On Monday (Feb 1), the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the issue of microcephaly - which may be linked to Zika - a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus – feared to cause abnormally small skulls and brain damage in babies – is carried by mosquitos.

Yesterday (Feb 4) the first case in Europe of a pregnant woman being diagnosed with the virus was reported in Spain.

To combat mosquitos that might have entered aircraft travelling to Europe in the cabins, insecticide will be sprayed to kill them off.

Planes arriving in the UK from all countries where cases of Zika have been confirmed in South America and the Caribbean will be sprayed as a precautionary measure.

Yesterday Florida, a major tourist destination for Britons, declared a health emergency over the virus after nine cases were detected there, Mail Online reported.

The Department for Health said the precautions – known as "disinsection" - already occur on many flights from the region as a precaution against mosquito-bourne malaria.

The WHO warned this week that Europe could be hit by the disease as mosquitos capable of carrying the disease are found in much of southern Europe – raising fears of the bug hitting holidaymakers in the Mediterranean .

But the Department for Help said the virus is "extremely unlikely to be able to survive and breed here given the lower temperatures in the UK".

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: "Disinsection is a highly precautionary measure to reduce the risk to passengers during flights to the UK.

"I want to reassure people that the risk to the UK population is extremely low. We advise people travelling to affected areas to reduce the risk of themselves being bitten by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves and trousers."

She added: "Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to countries with the Zika virus - or if travel is unavoidable, they ought to seek travel health advice from their GP or a travel clinic well in advance of their trip."

Last month, Jamaican women were being encouraged to delay becoming pregnant for the next six to 12 months as the zika virus headed closer to the island.

The Ministry of Health also told pregnant women to take extra precaution to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes as the virus has been linked to microcephaly and other birth deficiencies.

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