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Zika health emergency declared across half of Peru

102 people have been infected with the virus in Peru – including 34 pregnant women.

PERUVIAN OFFICIALS HAVE declared a Zika health emergency across the northern half of their country – after confirming that 102 people have been infected with the virus.

The 90-day emergency was announced in the official gazette El Peruano, which said the health ministry and local authorities were working to prevent the spread of the disease, which is principally transmitted by mosquitos.

The cases detected so far include 34 pregnant women.

Zika is seen as a cause of microcephaly – abnormally small heads and brains – in babies.

A major Zika outbreak in neighbouring Brazil, where nearly 1,600 babies have been born with the birth defect, has prompted concerns for athletes and visitors ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

There is growing evidence that in limited cases Zika can also be transmitted sexually.

In adults and children it usually causes only mild, flu-like symptoms and a rash. But it has been linked to neurological problems such as a potentially fatal paralysis known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

According to the English language news site Peru Reports, the capital Lima has been included in the emergency area – even though most outbreaks were detected in the northern Jaen province, near the Ecuador border. The city has been included because of its large population.

Popular destination 

Peru is a popular destination among Irish travellers – particularly the Machu Picchu Inca city ruins to the south of the country.

In its latest travel update for Irish holidaymakers, issued in June, the Department of Foreign Affairs said travellers were strongly recommended to “obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs”.

The update adds:

There is no Irish Embassy in Peru, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consulate in Lima or the Irish Embassy in Mexico.

Reporting by Daragh Brophy and AFP. 

Read: “Leprechaun economics” – experts aren’t impressed with Ireland’s GDP figures >

Read: Defiant China says it’s not backing down in wake of ruling on disputed waters >

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