Zika virus spreads to Costa Rica

The Zika virus sweeping Latin America and blamed for a surge in brain-damaged babies has spread to Costa Rica, the health ministry said Tuesday.

A 25-year-old man was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne tropical disease after returning from a trip to Colombia, where more than 11,000 people have been infected.

Since Zika, a flu-like disease that originated in Africa, arrived in Latin America last year, there has been a jump in babies born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, a birth defect that can cause and death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Sunday that the virus is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except Canada and Chile.

It was present in 21 out of 55 countries and territories in the Americas as of that update.

The WHO cautioned that no definitive link between Zika and fetal brain damage has been proven, though director general Margaret Chan called the possibility "extremely worrisome."

The Costa Rican said the infected man was recovering at home in San Jose, the capital.

A team was dispatched to fumigate the area in hopes of wiping out mosquitoes that could bite him and pass the virus on to others.

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© 2016 AFP

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