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Zika virus 'spreading explosively'

PREVENTION: A health worker leads the fight against ZIKV as he fumigates against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, inside a house in Lima, Peru, last Friday

THE WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the zika virus (ZIKV) is "spreading explosively", predicting up to four million cases this year.

Today (Feb 1), the WHO is scheduled to meet to decide whether ZIKV should be treated as a global emergency.

In the United States, New York health officials say they will host a webinar on the virus for health professionals state-wide, following the identification of nine cases in the state.

State Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker said officials will discuss how they are reducing the risk of spreading zika during tomorrow's forum.

The mosquito-borne virus has been identified in nine New Yorkers, who recently returned from countries where the virus is actively being transmitted.


The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued travel warnings for pregnant women in countries mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The virus has been linked with microcephaly, which can leave affected newborns with unusually small heads and abnormal brain development.

In the meantime, the number of pregnant women in Colombia infected with the zika virus has doubled in a week, officials said.

Almost 2,000 pregnant women now have the virus, Colombia's National Health Institute said, out of the more than 20,000 people infected across Colombia.

Brazil has been worst affected by the outbreak, followed by Colombia, but more than 20 other countries have seen cases.

Jamaica and Peru reported their first confirmed cases over the weekend, with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala urging calm and stressing that the patient contracted the disease outside of the country.

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