Guinea-Bissau confirms 3 cases of Zika

  • 02/07/2016
(Getty file)
(Getty file)

Guinea-Bissau has confirmed its first three cases of the Zika virus in a group of islands off the mainland and has set up an emergency committee to stop further transmission and spread of the disease, the government says.

Experts have feared the tiny nation could become a gateway for the Zika's spread to mainland West Africa after an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus was first recorded in Cape Verde, an island chain off Africa's Atlantic coast, late last year.

"The Health Minister has informed (the government) of three confirmed cases of Zika virus contamination located in the Bijagos Archipelago," read a government statement sent to reporters on Friday.

Zika is spreading through the Caribbean and Latin America.

Only about 20 percent of infected cases display symptoms, which are usually mild and include fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

But the CDC says it can be spread from pregnant women to fetuses and has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and sometimes brain damage.