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Zika Virus In Tourists Is More Severe, Scientists Say

By Donna Bellevue , Mar 07, 2017 02:19 AM EST
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Canadian tourists suffered more severe Zika virus symptoms than scientists previously thought. They had painful rashes, a high fever, muscle and joint pain and headaches according to a new study that focuses on the mosquito-borne virus’s reach on travelers. New national research suggests that Zika hit Canadian travelers harder than other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya.

The recent findings come out of records collected from Canadian Travel Medicine Network by infectious disease experts over the course of a year. The study looked at Canadians returning from trips to Zika-affected regions who received treatment from national travel clinics. In the study, 1,118 patients who visited those clinics over a year were examined.

Researchers find a higher rate of complicated illness from Zika virus than anticipated in patients. They find that 10% of patients with the virus had severe complications. Additionally, none of the patients who came to the clinic with tropical illnesses like dengue or chikungunya developed severe complications, the BBC reports.

Zika-infected travelers commonly experienced rash and fever followed by muscle or joint pain or headaches. In pregnant women, out of the three who visited one of the clinics, two developed congenital infections that affected their babies. Two patients also showed symptoms of Guillain-Barré or GBS-like syndrome, which leads to temporary paralysis and has been linked to the infection, while another one also had Zika viral meningitis, the Global News reports.

According to researchers, Zika virus cases that were part of the study were most likely transmitted by mosquitoes. Published on Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the doctors behind the limited study say it underscores the importance of prevention. Dr Sumon Chakrabarti, one of the researchers of the group, and an infectious disease expert at Trillium Health Partners, a Toronto-based hospital group, recommends that since Canadians are "big travelers" to Zika-infested regions, they need to take steps to protect themselves from infection.

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