What you need to know about the Zika virus 

What you need to know about the Zika virus 

The Zika virus is likely to spread throughout the Americas, according to the World Health Organization, but what is the virus, how much of a danger does it pose and what are the authorities doing about it?

The alarming infection may be linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains and has been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, as well as North and South America.

First detected in monkeys in Africa in 1947, there have been small outbreaks in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. However, in 2015 transmission was detected in Brazil.

The disease is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which are found in all countries in the Americas apart from Canada and Chile. They also spread dengue fever and chikungunya.

The WHO’s regional office, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said: “PAHO anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.”

There is also early evidence of “one case of possible person-to-person sexual transmission”.

The director general of the WHO, Margaret Chan, said the outbreak was “extremely worrisome”.

Around 80% of infections do not result in symptoms – and even patients who do exhibit symptoms are only likely to suffer from fever and a rash. There is currently no known cure. Read more

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