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Ontario has first case of Zika virus; brought from traveller to Colombia

Zika virus cultures are shown at the National Microbiology Laboratory of Canada in Winnipeg on Feb. 16.

Health Canada/REUTERS

Ontario has its first confirmed case of Zika virus in a person who had travelled to Colombia.

Public Health Ontario announced Friday that it had received positive test results Tuesday, but wouldn't say if the person is a man or woman.

However, Ontario's health ministry did confirm the patient isn't pregnant.

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The virus has been potentially linked in Brazil to more than 4,400 cases of abnormally small heads in infants born to women who may have been infected while pregnant, as well as cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition that can cause muscle weakness or even partial paralysis.

"The risk to Ontarians remains very low, as the mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well-suited to our climate," said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.

There has been an explosion of Zika infections in South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean since the first cases began showing up in Brazil last May.

A small number of cases have previously been reported in Canada — in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec — in travellers who have returned home infected.

Most people who contract the infection have no symptoms, but some experience fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes.

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