WHO sends team to Cape Verde after microcephaly case found

PRAIA The World Health Organisation said on Friday it is sending a team to Cape Verde to evaluate the first case of the neurological disorder microcephaly, thought to be linked to the Zika virus, in the island nation off West Africa.

The team, which includes epidemiologists, laboratory experts and maternal health specialists, will seek to understand the dynamics of an outbreak of Zika on the archipelago and improve the response, the WHO, the health arm of the United Nations, said in a statement.

“WHO is also assisting the Ministry of Health to implement WHO guidelines for managing pregnancies of women infected with Zika to ensure women’s decisions about their pregnancies are based on the best possible information about risks to the foetus,” it said.

Cape Verde this week identified Africa’s first case of microcephaly and said the baby was born at the main hospital in the capital Praia on March 14 to a woman who was not among more than 100 women being monitored for the mosquito-borne virus.

The Atlantic Ocean nation around 570 km (350 miles) west of Senegal has historic ties to Brazil, where an outbreak of Zika is suspected of causing a spike in birth defects including babies born with abnormally small heads.

WHO in February declared the virus an international public health emergency due to its link to the birth defects in Brazil.

(Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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