The World Health Organisation has announced the detection of three cases of microcephaly in Cape Verde, same as the one circulating in the Americas.
The detected Zika strain, responsible for the outbreaks linked to neurological disorders in many South American countries, is the first in Africa.
“As of 8 May 2016, there have been 7557 suspected cases of Zika in Cape Verde. Three cases of microcephaly have been reported from Cape Verde with one case reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after being delivered in the United States,” the African Regional Office of WHO announced on Friday.
They however ruled out the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), another rare but serious autoimmune disorder, from the cases reported in Cape Verde.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has expressed concern about the findings saying “it is further proof that the outbreak is spreading beyond South America and is on the doorstep of Africa. This information will help African countries to re-evaluate their level of risk and adapt and increase their levels of preparedness.”
The WHO advised African countries to communicate the risks of the disease to pregnant women so they avoid mosquito bites as well as sexual transmission.
“Countries should increase their surveillance for Zika transmission and congenital malformations, such as microcephaly, as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome,” they added.
The United Nations body assured that they will support African countries to step up preparedness efforts for early detection like it was done in West Africa during the Ebola emergency.
The Zika virus has spread in over 30 states in Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Health Organisation recently declared the virus a global emergency and anticipates it will affect as many as 4 million people.