Prague, Nov 6 (CTK) – Sixteen people have been tested positive for the Zika virus in the Czech Republic out of the 800 who underwent tests, but no Olympic or Paralympic athletes from Rio were among the infected, Hana Zelena, head of the virology department of the Health Institute in Ostrava, has told CTK.
Moreover, 15 people had antibodies after suffering the infection, she added.
Experts from the institute in Ostrava, north Moravia, apply the tests that are able to detect the antibodies to the Zika virus.
The institute offers free testing of participants in the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by the end of November.
The institute registered an increased interest in Zika tests in September and October. Some 800 people have been tested so far.
“We have found 16 cases of acute infection and antibodies after a previous infection in 15 persons. The Zika virus was found in one patient’s sperm even two months after being infected,” Zelena said.
Some 80 people have been tested in connection with the Olympics and Paralympics, but the tests are voluntary, Zelena said.
“No positive case has been in the group of Olympic and Paralympic athletes,” she added.
The Zika virus started spreading mainly in Latin America in the past year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the international public health emergency over Zika in early February.
The Zika infection is transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that does not live in Europe.
The illness causes fever lasting several days. It is transmitted from pregnant women to the foetuses and possibly also by sexual intercourse. It may seriously harm foetuses, causing microcephaly and other neurological defects.
The infection has spread in Latin American and Caribbean regions where some 200,000 cases have been diagnosed. Sporadic cases have appeared in Europe and Asia.