WHO: - The spread of the Zika virus is an international health emergency

WHO: - The spread of the Zika virus is an international health emergency
The World Health Organization, WHO, now regards the spread of the infection of the dreaded Zika virus as an international emergency, reports Reuters.

The last time this happened was when West Africa was hit by the Ebola outbreak.

WHO chief Margaret Chan has previously described the spread of the infection as "explosive".

Thousands of children in Brazil have been born with birth defects caused by the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes.

Scientists are convinced the virus is the reason, says Marcelo Castro, Minister of Health of Brazil.

The WHO has said it expects three to four million people to become infected by the virus in North and South America, with 1.5 million cases in Brazil alone in the course of a year.

There is no vaccine

People who are travelling to those countries where the Zika virus is spread, are asked to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and pregnant women should contact the health service for advices before the trip.

There is no vaccine or cure for the virus.

The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, writes the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website.

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