Zika warning extended by US as virus spreads
Experts are baffled by rapid increase of virus in Brazil and neighbouring countries
A man fumigating a house in Mexico City, Mexico as part of the country’s campaign against the Zika virus. Photograph: Mexican Secretary Office of Health/EPA
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its travel warning to another eight countries or territories that pose a risk of infection with Zika, a mosquito-borne virus spreading through the Caribbean and Latin America.
The CDC has cautioned pregnant women not to travel to these areas as Zika has been suspected to lead to birth defects.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which causes mild fevers and rashes.
An estimated 80 per cent of those infected show no symptoms at all.
Researchers in Brazil said on Wednesday they had found new evidence linking the virus to increasing incidence of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads.
US authorities confirmed on Saturday the birth of a baby with a small head in Hawaii to a mother who had been infected with the Zika virus while visiting Brazil.
The CDC issued an advisory last week against travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.