Zika virus outbreak: everything you need to know
It is 27 weeks and three days until all eyes are on Rio for the Olympic Games. The organising committee now has an extra job — the fight against Zika, a new virus flaring up in the Americas. If pregnant women are infected the virus can cause a congenital defect in their babies called microcephaly, where the brain of the foetus fails to grow as it should. So what do you need to know about it?
What is Zika?
Zika is caused by a virus known as ZIKV. The name comes from the Zika forest in Uganda, where it was first identified in 1947 when a monkey was suffering from it.
Where did Zika come from?
It only began to spread widely last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil. Professor Luis Cuevas of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine says: “Because it is relatively new, few people have immune defences against it. Zika became a problem in 2014 when a strain of the mosquitoes that carry it was identified on an island off the Chile coast. There is speculation it started in Rio during the 2014 World Cup.”
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