In total, seven people have been diagnosed with Zika in Britain in the last three years but more than half of those have been reported since January, the body added.
Dilys Morgan, head of the department of gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic infections at PHE, told MPs at a select committee inquiry that the rise would be partly a result of the publicity about the virus spreading across Latin America, which has been linked to cases of brain deformity in babies.
“We are seeing cases coming back,” she said. “We have raised awareness so people are more aware of the infection and we are likely to see more cases.” The same thing happened when chikungunya, a virus in the same family, spread through the Caribbean last year, she said. Several hundred cases were reported in the UK.
Although there have been two reported cases of sexual transmission of the Zika virus, the risk of transmission in the UK is considered close to zero, MPs on the science and technology select committee heard. The virus has been mainly spread in Latin America by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which does not live in northern climes.
Four cases of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus associated with brain damaged babies in Latin America, have been discovered in the UK in the last six weeks, Public Health England has said, warning that the number is likely to rise.