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  1. ITV Report

Person in UK 'infected with Zika through sexual transmission' for first time

Zika is most commonly spread through mosquitoes. Photo: PA

The Zika virus has been sexually transmitted in the UK for the first time, health officials have said.

The woman, who has since made a full recovery, is thought to have been infected by her partner who visited an affected region.

The mosquito-borne disease is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in the birth of children with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

Public Health England said there have been 265 cases reported in Britain.

They advise men who visit affected areas to use condoms for six months following their return.

  • Watch analysis from ITV News Science Correspondent Alok Jha

There have only been 60 cases of the sexual transmission of Zika worldwide, making it extremely rare. The virus remains a low threat to the wider British public.

Professor Dilys Morgan, Zika incident director at Public Health England, said: "Zika infection is usually a mild, self-limiting illness. Our main concern is to avoid infection in pregnancy, in order to avoid risk to the unborn child."

Workers spray pesticide in Rio de Janeiro to try and prevent further infection. Credit: PA

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus. It was first identified in the rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1974, and moved to humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania in 1952.

It is spread by the Aedes mosquito, which usually bites during the day.

The current outbreak began in Brazil in 2015, and became an international concern in the run up to the Rio Olympics.

In February the virus was deemed a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation. A study revealed that during the height of the epidemic requests for abortions doubled in affected Latin American countries.