A number of people in Scotland have been diagnosed as having the Zika virus, it has been confirmed today.
Last week more than 50 people across the UK were found to have been treated for the virus.
But the Scottish Government stressed the disease ‘does not pose a public health risk’, and said an undisclosed number of cases had occurred in the country.
And they advise people not to worry as the mosquito which is responsible for Zika would not be able to establish in Scotland because of its climate.
More than 50 people across the UK were found to have been treated for Zika – and now the Scottish Government have revealed an undisclosed amount of cases were north of the border
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We can assure the public that Zika does not pose a public health risk in Scotland, and of the cases identified in the UK a very small number have been found in Scotland.
‘The mosquito that spreads the virus is not found in the UK, and in any case would not be able to establish in Scotland because of our climate.
‘Zika cannot be spread through person-to-person or airborne contact.’
‘We have already informed the at-risk groups about the risks and how to protect themselves through Health Protection Scotland’s travel advice.
‘We continue to closely monitor developments in our understanding of the Zika virus as treatments and testing regimes develop.’
Three patients from West Yorkshire were treated for the virus at hospitals in Huddersfield and Calderdale after returning from overseas last week.
But a spokesperson for Public Health England said the risk to the general public is low – and all the patients had caught the virus abroad.
Zika is associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.
It has been declared a ‘global public health emergency’ by the World Health Organisation and has spread rapidly in South America.
The Zika virus is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito, the Aedes Aegypti – but can also be spread sexually as the virus can live for months in semen.
Zika is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito, the Aedes Aegypti (pictured) – but can also be spread sexually as the virus can live for months in semen
Fear has led a number of competitors to opt out of this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil – where the disease is rife – including top British golfer Rory McIlroy.
While pregnant women are being advised to postpone non-essential travel to disease hotspots, the NHS stresses that for ‘most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful’.
Since the Zika epidemic began in 2015, nearly 5,000 cases of microcephaly have been recorded in affected regions.
Worldwide concern has centred on north-east Brazil but more than 20 other countries have now been affected.
So far more than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the US – four patients in Florida who have tested positive for the virus appear to be the first cases not linked to travel outside the US mainland.