Three to four million people could be infected with Zika virus in the Americas this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts.
Most will not develop symptoms, but the virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been linked to brain defects in babies. Meanwhile, the US says it hopes to begin human vaccine trials by the end of 2016.
The head of the International Olympic Committee says steps are being taken to protect the Games in Rio de Janeiro.Thomas Bach said the IOC would issue advice this week on how to keep athletes and visitors safe in Brazil, the worst affected country. WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said Zika had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”.
I – Word Understanding
Zika virus – Spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever and yellow fever
Infected – affect with a virus
II – Have Your Say
What is the Zika virus:
• First discovered in Africa in the 1940s but is now spreading in Latin America
• Scientists say there is growing evidence of a link to microcephaly, that leads to babies being born with small heads
• Can lead to fever and a rash but most people show no symptoms, and there is no known cure
• Only way to fight Zika is to clear stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, and protect against mosquito bites
Zika: What you need to know
* Zika was first detected in Uganda in 1947, but has never caused an outbreak on this scale.
* Brazil reported the first cases of Zika in South America in May 2015.
* Most cases result in no symptoms and it is hard to test for, but WHO officials said between 500,000 and 1.5 million people had been infected in the country.
* The virus has since spread to more than 20 countries in the region.