Peru reports first patient carrying the Zika virus

A model of a mosquito is exhibited during a campaign to raise awareness of preventing the entry of the Zika virus into the country, at the Health Ministry in Lima, Peru January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru said Friday a Venezuelan man in Lima, who recently traveled through Colombia, had contracted the mosquito-borne virus Zika, in the Andean country’s first confirmed case of the disease that is rapidly spreading across the Americas.

Health Minister Anibal Velasquez said he expected other cases of people who had been infected with Zika abroad to appear in Peru in the coming days.

Peru shares borders with Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff called for war on the virus that has caused severe birth defects in thousands of babies.Zika is also spreading in Colombia and Ecuador.

“It was inevitable that cases of imported Zika would arrive to Peru,” Velasquez said at a news conference. “The patient is isolated and we’re taking steps to prevent its spread.”

The Venezuelan man passed through the northern coastal city of Tumbes before coming to the capital, and health authorities there are bolstering efforts to eradicate mosquitoes, Velasquez said.

Zika is linked to severe birth defects and is “spreading explosively” in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization.

Venezuela has reported some 4,700 cases of potential infection.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Bernadette Baum