Colombia attributes 3 deaths to Zika virus: Reports

Zika virusColombian health officials say three people there have died of the Guillain-Barre syndrome after contracting the Zika virus.

National Health Institute Director Martha Lucia Ospina says that all three people who died of the rare syndrome that can completely paralyze were confirmed to have been infected with Zika.

Ospina says the cases confirm that Zika can cause deaths - though most international experts are still cautious about whether Zika can trigger Guillain-Barre. Other infections and conditions can lead to the syndrome.

Colombia has reported more than 20,000 Zika cases.

The head of a top Brazilian health research institute says its scientists have discovered the presence of active Zika virus in urine and saliva samples.

Paulo Gadelha says that the virus's ability to infect other people through the two body fluids requires further study.

However he says that the discovery calls for special precaution to be taken with pregnant women. Brazilian researchers have pointed to a suspected link between pregnant women's infection with the virus and a rare birth defect in babies.

Gadelha says the discovery does not yet merit any additional health recommendation

He spoke Friday at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.

About Zika virus:
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.

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