Zika virus claims Dutch victim on Suriname; 20 infected in NL

A Dutch tourist died in Suriname after contracting the Zika virus. He is the fourth to die in the country after contracting the virus. Scientists are currently investigating whether the cause of these four deaths were in fact the Zika virus, or whether the virus exacerbated existing symptoms, AD reports.

According to John Codrington, head of the laboratory at the Academic Hospital Paramaribo, all four patients had complaints before contracting the virus, but none of them were seriously ill. Their deaths happened pretty quickly after they contracted the virus. The victims were men between the ages of 58 and 76 years.

On Monday a team of researchers from Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Center left for Suriname to help with the research into he virus.

This is the first time that the virus is being associated with death. The Zika virus seems especially dangerous to unborn children. If a pregnant woman becomes infected, the baby may suffer brain damage.

On Friday Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health announced that a total of 20 people in the Netherlands are infected with the Zika virus. As far as is known, none of them are pregnant women.

One Dutch pregnant woman told NOS-NTR radio program Nieuws en Co. on Friday that she was diagnosed with the Zika virus while on holiday in Suriname. She went to the hospital because she had a rash and was itchy. Upon her return she went to the Amsterdam Medical Center for an examination, where they did an echo of her baby's head and found that everything was fine, she said to the radio program.

No blood tests were done in Suriname or in Amsterdam. And the AMC would not confirm the matter to Het Parool, due to doctor-patient confidentiality.

Commenting on the matter to broadcaster NOS, Minister Schippers stated that she does not know whether the woman was really infected with the Zika virus. "The RIVM has not confirmed tat to me."

Last week the World Health Organization classified the Zika outbreak as a global public health emergency. The WHO hopes that this step will accelerate international intervention against this fast-spreading virus.