Country Confirms Zika Crisis, Denies Birth Defects
Colombia's president speaks on the issue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2016 4:29 PM CST
City workers fumigate from a vehicle, to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Villavicencio, Colombia, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.   (Fernando Vergara)
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(Newser) – Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday that there's no evidence Zika has caused any cases of the birth defect known as microcephaly in his country, though it has diagnosed 3,177 pregnant women with the virus. Santos also announced that a US medical-scientific team will arrive in Colombia to help investigate the mosquito-borne virus. Brazilian officials say they suspect Zika is behind a seemingly unusual number of microcephaly cases, in which children are born with unusually small heads. The link is not confirmed, but it has helped prompt the World Health Organization to declare an emergency over the virus.

Santos says Zika apparently has affected more than 25,600 Colombians overall. Colombian officials said Friday that three people had died of the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome they attributed to cases of Zika. To date, the mosquito-borne virus has spread to more than 20 countries in the Americas. With global concern over the Zika virus growing, health officials are warning pregnant women to be careful about who they kiss and calling on men to use condoms with pregnant partners if they have visited countries where the virus is present. The flurry of recommendations began in Brazil, where a top health official said that scientists have found live virus in saliva and urine samples, and the possibility it could be spread by the two body fluids requires further study. (A Texas resident got Zika from having sex.)