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The explosion of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the Americas comes as tens of thousands of people are poised to descend on Brazil later this year for the Olympics, possibly making the international games a springboard to transmit the virus around the world when visitors return home.
Dr. Beth Bell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told VOA “For most people, the Zika virus is not a problem. It can cause mild, flu-like symptoms, but the virus can also cause babies to be born with a serious condition called microcephaly.”
Zika virus has been tentatively linked to 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a condition that results in abnormally small heads and brains in newborns. There is no treatment for microcephaly.
4 million could be affected
The World Health Organization warns the Zika virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas and could affect as many as four million people.
The WHO says the virus was originally seen as a mild risk to humans, but it has since grown rapidly to a public-health threat of “alarming proportions.”
The WHO says people with the Zika virus have a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis (red eye) with symptoms lasting between two to seven days. The best prevention against Zika virus, experts say, is protection against mosquito bites as no vaccine or treatment is available.
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