Zika virusEpidemiologist Jussi Sane at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) told ABC News that a Finnish tourist was infected by the Zika virus after visiting the Maldives last summer.

The infection was minor and the man was well and had been allowed home soon after being treated by doctors in June 2015. Sane said Wednesday that it was the first known case in which the infection was linked to the Maldives.

Three to four million people could be infected with Zika virus in the Americas this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts.

 The virus was first isolated from monkeys in Uganda in 1947, but it has never caused an outbreak of this magnitude in humans. Zika Virus spreads by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever and yellow fever.

It has been present in Africa and Asia, and caused alarm after appearing last year in Brazil for the first time, where it is suspected of causing birth defects, specifically microcephaly; a condition where infants are born with an abnormally small scull and brain. Over 3500 cases of microcephaly have been reported in Brazil since last October. In comparison, the country had no more than 150 cases in the whole of 2014.

Adults infected with Zika could have fever and a rash or conjunctivitis, but most people show no symptoms.

Doctors writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association said Zika had "explosive pandemic potential" and a state of emergency similar to the case of Ebola outbreak is probable.

There are two potential Zika vaccines in development, but no commercially available vaccine or cure is available at the moment. Vaccine trials may start in people by the end of this year in the US.

Helsinki Times
Photos: Cristophe Simon - Lehtikuva / AFP, Marco Garro - Lehtikuva / AFP

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