Zika virus disease is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
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The WHO said it was concerned that the latest strain was spreading and was “on the doorstep of Africa”.
It is currently circulating in Cape Verde, an archipelago off the north west coast of Africa.
Zika has been linked to neurological disorders including babies being born with small brains.
Protection against Zika virus!
She said African countries should raise awareness among pregnant women of the complications with the Zika virus and encourage people to protect themselves against mosquito bites and sexual transmission.
But she said she would not recommend strict travel restrictions to try to stop the spread of the disease.
There have been more than 7,000 suspected cases of Zika in Cape Verde, with 180 pregnant women thought to have been infected. The WHO says three babies have been born brain damaged with microcephaly.
Until the virus was sequenced by scientists in Senegal, it was not certain if the outbreak in Cape Verde was caused by the African or Asian type, which has hit Brazil and other Latin American countries.
“It is likely that the South American, Caribbean and Polynesian populations had no prior immunity to the virus, so a high proportion of people who are bitten by infected mosquitos caught the disease,” said Dr Anna Checkley, of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, University College London Hospitals.
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