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Russia not at 'risk’ area for Zika virus, says authority

May 23, 2016, 21:09 UTC+3 GENEVA

A Russian academician says at the moment, Russia sees no real and even small-scope threat of Zika virus spread in the country

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GENEVA, May 23. /TASS/. The Zika virus poses no real threat for Russia at the moment, a Russian academician said on Monday noting however that the situation could change amid global warming as a result of which mosquitoes that carry the virus could spread.

"At the moment, I believe that thanks God Russia sees no real and even small-scope threat," the general director of the N.F. Gamaleya Epidemiology and Microbiology Research Institute, Aleksandr Gintsburg, said.

"We have more topical from my point of view problems - tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis, which are way more serious [than Zika]," the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences said.

So far, the Zika virus is not an endemic infection for Russia, he explained. Besides, "at the present moment, an efficient fight against the Zika virus consists first of all in efforts aimed at destruction of mosquitoes carrying it," he said.

"In Russia this work is done very well," he went on. "In the 19th century, Caucasus was a site of exiles, while now it is a resort, owing to very intensive dewatering job done in due time, starting from [governor] Prince Mikhail Vorontsov (1782-1856). Mosquitoes stopped propagating and this had a major effect on the anti-epidemiological situation of that region," he said.

However, the situation with Zika could change amid global warming in which mosquitoes could spread. "We must monitor whether the climate is changing or not," the scientist said.

Scientists from different countries, including from the US and Brazil, believe the Zika virus could be dangerous for pregnant women, causing severe birth defects with microcephaly the gravest among them.

The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Last May, when the virus started rapidly spreading in Brazil and then spread to other countries of South and North America, it became a topic for wider discussion.

At the moment, outbreaks have been registered in Asia, Africa, in South and North America and in the Pacific region.

Medical professionals note special concern for infected pregnant women, whose children risk developing brain-damaging microcephaly.

Russia’s federal consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor confirmed last week the third case of the Zika virus in the country.

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