Fears are growing over the spread of the Zika virus, with the World Health Organization holding a conference today (28 January 2016) to discuss how to combat the explosive pandemic potential of the mosquito-borne disease that is rapidly spreading throughout Latin America.
But what exactly is the Zika virus and what are the symptoms? IBTimes UK explains in this video what has caused the outbreak and how best to avoid infection.
What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is an infection passed on through the Aedes mosquito. It is difficult to detect, with only one in five people infected showing symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
In adults, the minor symptoms include fever, rash, headache and muscle pain. But for pregnant women it has been heavily linked with microcephaly, wherein babies are born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.
Where does it come from?
Zika was first discovered in a monkey in Uganda in 1947. The most recent outbreak was discovered in Brazil in May 2015. More than 20 countries in Latin America have now been affected, and it is likely to spread to other countries in Asia and Africa where Aedes mosquitos live.
How do I avoid infection?
There is currently no vaccine or cure for Zika. Travellers to affected regions have been advised to cover up and use insect repellent. Pregnant women have been advised to avoid countries with confirmed cases, and some affected countries have told women to avoid getting pregnant for up to two years.