Written question – EU response to Europe's first cases of Zika virus – P-000801/2016

The scenario that health authorities have feared has become a reality: the Zika virus has now spread to Europe, with cases already recorded in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark and Switzerland.

This outbreak is extremely serious given that the virus, which for a long time was considered benign, is thought to have caused microcephaly in a significant number of babies, particularly in Brazil and Colombia, since 2014. Babies born with microcephaly have a cranial circumference of less than 33 centimetres and as a result have permanent mental disabilities.

The Aedes mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya, is believed to be the carrier of the Zika virus, which poses a risk to pregnant women and their babies, who can become infected through the placenta.

1. What action has the Commission taken since the virus was first detected in Europe, and what further action will it be taking? Can it confirm that there is no risk of the virus being spread by humans?

2. Will the Commission, together with Member State health authorities, be following the lead of the United States, which on 22 January 2015 advised pregnant women not to travel to 22 countries in South America and the Caribbean?