Zika cases in pregnant women double in Colombia

This week, Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Association, called the spread of the virus "explosive". El Salvador, criticized for its exceptionally strict abortion laws, has attempted to address Zika infections in pregnant women by calling on women to avoid pregnancy until 2018. According to the CDC, the Zika virus is now in more than 20 countries and spreading fast because of the widespread presence of the Aedes mosquitoes - the same mosquito that spreads dengue - and the fact that people in the region have no natural immunity.

Ontarians visiting affected areas should protect themselves against Zika virus by taking individual protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, protective clothing, mosquito nets, screened doors and windows.

This recent outbreak has coincided with a large uptick in cases of microcephaly, a developmental condition in which affected children are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that pregnant women, or those who may become pregnant, should try to avoid travel to at least 24 countries and territories, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, where Zika virus has been spreading.

The case is being investigated to determine the source of infection and the child's parents and family have been contacted and briefed by a team from the Ministry of Health. There is not a Zika outbreak in the US, but there are 32 documented cases of Americans who contracted it while traveling overseas.

Zika virus is a disease caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, the same vector carrying dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

"I don't want to give misconception here, we're expecting there to be some local transmission, but based on the experience with the other mosquito borne viruses and those areas in the southern united states, we are not expecting really big hard to control ones", Schuchat said.

Other doctors in Brazil have also reported microcephaly cases showing more profound abnormalities than previously seen.

They'll have symptoms compatible with Zika infections within a couple of weeks of leaving the endemic area.

The CDC has received "a lot of requests for assistance in many other countries" beyond Brazil, said Treadwell, one of two deputies reporting to Peterson. Rio de Janeiro is of special concern, since it will host the August 5-21 Summer Olympic games that are expected to be attended by millions from around the world.

He said the virus has no treatment or vaccine and presents a unique challenge especially to pregnant mothers.

The virus is spread by a type of mosquito that doesn't live in Canada.

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