The tropical Zika virus is expecteded to spread in the U.S. and the Americas – with the exception of Canada and Chile – according to a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO). Researchers have found out that the virus can cause brain damage in babies and paralysis in most adults.
— CNN (@CNN) January 25, 2016
According to WHO reports, the virus has already reached 21 countries and territories since May last year and has been traced to the birth of babies with smaller brains in Brazil.
As many as 1.3 million Brazilians were reportedly affected by the Zika virus. As of now, South American governments including Colombia and Brazil are warning women of the risks of conceiving in the midst of the outbreak. Authorities in El Salvador went as far as advising women to not get pregnant until 2018.
— AJE News (@AJENews) January 22, 2016
There has been two known cases that suggest that Zika could be transmitted through sex. Although the number of cases in which the virus was found in a man’s semen has been few, scientists remain very worried about the health threats it poses on pregnant women and the population in general.
According to WHO’s regional office – The Pan American Health Organization – the virus will possibly reach countries and territories where Aedes mosquitos are found. Canada is not on the list since the country is too cold for the mosquito that carries Zika virus to thrive.
— SciencePhotoLibrary (@sciencephoto) January 22, 2016
The organization also commented on the people’s lack of immunity against the virus: “The population of the Americas had not previously been exposed to Zika and therefore lacks immunity.”
However, some epidemiologists feel Zika may have mutated. “This may be a new strain that's traveling very quickly but we really don't know,” Yale epidemiologist Albert Ko stated.
PAHO have advised the public to take precautions against the Zika virus by frequently cleaning our surroundings, getting rid of places that serve as breeding ground of mosquitoes and use insect repellant to avoid mosquito bites.