Colombia: Colombia says three people have died after contracting the Zika virus and developing a rare nerve disorder. Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria said there was a “causal connection” between Zika, the Guillain-Barre disorder and the three deaths.
Earlier, Brazilian scientists said they had detected for the first time active samples of Zika in urine and saliva. However, it is not clear whether the virus can be transmitted through bodily fluids. Zika, a mosquito-borne disease, has been linked to cases of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly – underdeveloped brains.
“We have confirmed and attributed three deaths to Zika,” said the head of Colombia’s National Health Institute, Martha Lucia Ospina. “In this case, the three deaths were preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome.”
Guillain-Barre is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system. It isn’t normally fatal. Ms Ospina said another six deaths were being investigated for possible links to Zika.
“Other cases (of deaths linked to Zika) are going to emerge,” she said. “The world is realising that Zika can be deadly. The mortality rate is not very high, but it can be deadly.” Mr Gaviria said one of the fatalities took place in San Andres and the other two in Turbo, in Antioquia department.