Latin American leaders meet as Zika worries increase
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Latin American leaders meet as Zika worries increase

A meeting of the leaders of 22 Latin American and Caribbean nations is being held in Quito, Ecuador, to discuss how to deal with the Zika virus sweeping across the region.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told reporters that the leaders decided Wednesday that their health ministers should meet soon to exchange information.

Colombia’s health minister has said the South American nation has more than 16,400 confirmed or suspected cases of Zika. Santos says 170 communities have been affected and the virus could affect as many as 600,000 people across the country this year.

Nicaragua is reporting the Central American nation’s first known cases of the Zika virus in two women in the capital of Managua.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo says the women display symptoms including fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. Health Ministry lab tests confirmed the presence of Zika. In Brazil, officials believe Zika infections may be linked to a wave of cases of a rare severe birth defect known as microcephaly.

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Latin America prepares for the Zika virus

Authorities in Argentina are testing a Colombian woman who lives in Buenos Aires to see if she is infected with the Zika virus. Officials say the 23-year-old woman may have become ill while in Colombia. 

The head of a body in Argentina’s capital formed to handle cases of illnesses transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito says the woman began showing symptoms consist with dengue, Zika or chikungunya early in January.

Committee head Eduardo Lopez tells local media that the risk of Zika “continues being very low in Argentina.” According to Argentina’s health ministry, three other suspected Zika cases turned out to be negative.