Zika Virus Spread in Americas

Zika Virus Spread in AmericasZika Virus Spread in Americas

The World Health Organization anticipates that the Zika virus will spread to all but two countries in South, Central and North America.

The mosquito-borne disease has raged in South America and other regions for several months.

Twenty-one countries and territories of the Americas have reported cases of the virus since Brazil reported the first cases of local transmission in May 2015, WHO regional office for the Americas said in a statement.

“Aedes mosquitoes -- the main vector for Zika transmission -- are present in all the region’s countries except Canada and continental Chile,” the statement said, CNN reported.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to postpone travel to Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The CDC also recommended that women who have recently traveled to these places during their pregnancy be screened and monitored for the virus.

That’s because the virus has been linked to an uptick in babies born with a neurological condition called microcephaly, which can cause abnormally small heads and serious, sometimes deadly, developmental delays.

The WHO attributed the virus’ rapid spread to the fact that people in the Americas lack immunity because they haven’t been exposed to it before.

There is no prevention or treatment for the disease. Travelers to hazardous areas are urged to prevent mosquito bites by using repellent and covering exposed skin.