Cape Verde: Microcephaly case possibly linked to Zika virus

Cape Verde has identified its first case of the neurological disorder microcephaly thought to be linked to the Zika virus, in what would be a first for Africa.

The ministry of health in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago state said a baby had been born at the main hospital in the capital, Praia, on 14 March to a woman who was not among more than 100 women being monitored for the mosquito-borne virus.

Cape Verde, about 570km (350 miles) west of Senegal, has historical ties to Brazil, where an outbreak of Zika is suspected of causing a spike in birth defects.

The World Health Organisation in February declared the virus an international public health emergency due to its link to the birth defects in Brazil.

Authorities in west Africa are seeking to prepare the region’s defences in case of a spread of Zika but say countries are ill-equipped for another public health emergency following the Ebola epidemic that was first announced in March 2014.

The Cape Verde government says more than 7,000 cases of Zika have been recorded since the beginning of the epidemic in October 2015, with heavier than normal rains last summer boosting mosquito numbers.

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