All you need to know about the Zika virus

© Copyright 2016 Corbis Corporation

The Zika virus has taken the world by storm after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak an international emergency on 1 February. In a statement, the WHO summarised the findings of the emergency committee on the Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations in new born babies.

Health experts predict that there are four million cases around the world. The mosquito-borne virus has spread to 23 countries and has been put in the same category as Ebola, which killed 11,000 people in West Africa. The WHO said in their statement:  “The experts also considered patterns of recent spread and the broad geographical distribution of mosquito species that can transmit the virus.”

19 Jan 2016, Recife, Brazil --- The Zika virus, first detected about 40 years ago in Uganda, has long seen as a less-painful cousin to dengue and chikunguya, which are spread by the same Aedes mosquito. Brazilian health authorities are convinced that microcephaly is related to the Zika virus when a pregnant woman is bitten by this bug. This rare condition known as microcephaly, often results in mental retardation. (XIBÉ/Flavio Forner) --- Image by © Flavio Forner/Xibe Images/Corbis

The Zika virus, first detected about 40 years ago in Uganda, has long seen as a less-painful cousin to dengue and chikunguya, which are spread by the same Aedes mosquito.  Image by © Flavio Forner/Xibe Images/Corbis

“The lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests, and the absence of population immunity in newly affected countries were cited as further causes for concern.”

Atleast 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly have been reported since October 2015, which makes Brazil the current epicenter of the Zika outbreak.

20 Jan 2016, Recife, Brazil --- Nadja Gomes Bezerra, 42, telemarketing operator, takes his daughter, Alice, in a medical consultation with Dr. Vanessa Van Der Linden. The Zika virus, first detected about 40 years ago in Uganda, has long seen as a less-painful cousin to dengue and chikunguya, which are spread by the same Aedes mosquito. Brazilian health authorities are convinced that microcephaly is related to the Zika virus when a pregnant woman is bitten by this bug. This rare condition known as microcephaly, often results in --- Image by © FLAVIO FORNER/Xibe Images/Corbis

Nadja Gomes Bezerra, 42, telemarketing operator, takes her daughter, Alice, in a medical consultation with Dr. Vanessa Van Der Linden. Image by © FLAVIO FORNER/Xibe Images/Corbis

El Salvador Vice Minister of Health Eduardo Espinoza said in an interview that they recommend that people plan their pregnancies and avoid having babies this year if possible.

Pregnant women have been warned not to travel to Brazil, which is set to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil has said that there is no chance of cancelling the Olympics, due to begin in August, because of the outbreak. They have taken measures and began fumigating and inspecting people’s home and as well as public areas.

© Copyright 2016 Corbis Corporation

South Africa seems to be in the clear for now after Professor Lucille Blumberg from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) ruled out the country as a major risk.

There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the outbreak.

Click on the infographic below to find out more information on the Zika virus.

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