Zika arrives in Ireland, with confirmation from the Health Service Executive that two travelers with a history of visiting the South American outbreak area have tested positive for the virus.
According to the BBC, the patients are a man and an older woman. Neither was potentially involved in a pregnancy, a major concern given Zika’s tendency to cause birth defects in unborn children.
Both patients are said to be “currently well and fully recovered” by the UK Daily Mail. Most people infected by Zika report very mild symptoms, usually persisting for less than a week. In a small percentage of adult patients, the virus has been linked with Guillain-Barre syndrome, described as “a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system.”
An HSE spokeswoman described these two as “the first cases of a Zika virus infection confirmed in Ireland” to the Daily Mail.
“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,” said the HSE in a statement.
The statement also noted that “while almost all cases of Zika virus are acquired via mosquito bites, one case of sexual transmission of Zika virus has been reported internationally.”
This refers to a patient in Texas believed to have contracted the virus after sexual contact with an infected traveler who had just returned from Venezuela. The HSE notes that the “risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus is thought to be extremely low.”