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Zika virus ‘spreading explosively’

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After the US President Barack Obama called for urgent action to combat the Zika virus, many people may be left wondering what the disease actually is. The virus is said to start ‘spreading explosively’ in the Americas, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan.

How is it caught?

It is usually transmitted by a mosquito bite, particularly the Aedes mosquito. The mosquito will feed on the blood of a person infected with the virus, which multiplies within the mosquito. After two weeks, the mosquito can spread the virus by biting other humans.

Most people won’t get symptoms, but those who do will usually get symptoms within 1-2 weeks, which include, a low-grade fever, a rash, headache, muscle pain and eye pain.

 

Why is Zika a threat?

There have been cases of pregnant women catching the virus and giving birth to a baby with an abnormally small head (microcephaly).

Where is the virus currently?

According to the World Health Organisation, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease in May 2015. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.

There have been cases of the virus in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

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