Zika virus: Colombia confirms over 3,100 cases in pregnant women

Over 25,000 people in the coutry are thought to be infected with the virus

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The Independent US

Colombia has confirmed 3,177 cases of the Zika virus in pregnant women. 

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on television that 25,645 people in the country were infected with the disease.

However, there are predictions that 600,000 cases could eventually affect Colombia, the President said.

The area with the highest proportion of preganant women with the Zika virus - close to 31% of all cases - was in the eastern Norte de Santander department.  

The Caribbean region, which is popular with tourists, has had over 11,000 cases of the virus.  

The Zika virus has been linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with undeveloped brains.

However, President Santos said there have so far been no cases of Zika linked microcephaly in Colombia, Reuters reported.

President Santos also announced measures to fight the spread of the virus. Fumigation and tackling stagnant water will be used to attempt to reduce the number of mosquitos which carry the virus. 

The Zika virus has been spreading rapidly in Latin America, and Colombia confirmed the country's first three deaths from the disease earlier this week.

An illness known as Guillain-Barre syndrome has been linked with the Zika deaths.  

Colombian Health Minister, Alejandro Gaviria, said: "There is a causal connection between Zika, Guillain-Barre and the death of three Colombians, one in San Andres and another two in Turbo, Antioquia."

“In this case, the three deaths were preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome.”

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare condition in which the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

Cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome have also been linked with Zika in Brazil. The condition can cause paralysis and is often linked with an earlier viral or bacterial infection.

However, scientific evidence linking Guillain-Barre syndrome with the Zika virus has not been proven, despite the suspicions of scientists.