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The Devastating Zika Virus Explained

The virus is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female Aedes mosquitoes, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Aedes mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile, and the virus will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found. Caption: An aedes aegypti mosquito is seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, 
Efforts to control the spread of the virus focus on eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets. U.S. health officials have advised pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries where they may be exposed to Zika. Caption: A health worker carries out fumigation as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the cemetery of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
Health officials said Zika cases have been reported in more than 30 countries ranging from the Americas to Ireland to Australia in the current outbreak. Brazil has been the nation most affected. Caption: A health worker empties a makeshift flower vase while searching for mosquito larvae as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the cemetery of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
There is no treatment or vaccine available for Zika infection. Companies and scientists are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika, but one is not expected to be ready for months or years. Caption: An Aedes Aegypti mosquito seen on a human hand in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia.
Long-term health consequences of Zika infection remain unclear. Other uncertainties surround the incubation period of the virus and how Zika interacts with other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue. Caption: A municipal worker puts a chemical compound to kill mosquito larvae into a sewer, while he carries out fumigation activities to help control the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Caracas, Venezuela.
The WHO has said the virus could infect 4 million people in the Americas and has launched a global response unit to fight the mosquito-borne virus. Caption: A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates against mosquito breeding, as well as to protect against Zika, during a regular fumigation campaign carried out together with the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation organisation in Martissant, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Marielos Sosa and a group of young volunteers developed a project which they say uses Sambo fish in water tanks and deposits to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes that transmit zika, dengue and chikungunya. Caption: Health promoter Marielos Sosa deposits fishes in a water tank at a local school for mosquito control project at San Diego village in La Libertad, El Salvador.
Two cases of possible person-to-person sexual transmission has been described, but the PAHO said more evidence is needed to confirm whether sexual contact is a means of Zika transmission. Caption: An employee examines a tube with the label 'Zika virus' at Genekam Biotechnology AG in Duisburg, Germany.
Health officials have yet to establish a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects, but it is strongly suspected. Brazil has reported 3,700 cases of suspected microcephaly that may be linked to Zika. Caption: Guilherme Soares Amorim, 2 months, who was born with microcephaly, gets his head measured by his mother Germana Soares, at her house in Ipojuca, Brazil.

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