Zika virus prompts Brazilian petition for more legal abortion access

There are six confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Texas, according to the Department of Health Services.

Almost half of Colombia's Zika cases have been reported in the country's Caribbean region, the bulletin said.

The mosquito-borne virus is especially troubling for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects. The symptoms of Zika include fever, achy joints, a rash and pink eye.

Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in Africa, however, the Zika Virus is scary because not everyone that has it knows they have it due to the limited symptoms the Zika Virus presents. The virus is transmitted by the mosquito's saliva. The Zika virus is associated with causing microcephaly, a birth defect where the infant is born with an abnormally small brain, and in most cases will suffer from some degree of mental retardation.

If a country has transmission of dengue virus or Chikungunya virus, it likely will have Zika virus transmission since they are spread by the same mosquito. For that reason women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should avoid travel to affected countries if at all possible.

U.S. officials have ruled out a vaccine to protect against Zika in the next few years as concerns continue to mount about the spread of the virus.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man also said that because only up to one quarter of the infected persons might develop relatively mild illness, "the attention was therefore not too big".

While there is no evidence the Zika virus can be passed human to human, there have been reports the virus has been isolated in human blood and semen.

In the coming weeks, PAHO said it will convene experts "to address critical gaps in scientific knowledge about the virus and its potential effects on fetuses, children and adults". There is some indication that Zika virus infection increases the risk of having a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, a form of paralysis that is usually reversible. Once the virus is gone, there should be no effect on future pregnancies.

Afterward, Health Minister Marcelo Castro echoed her words, telling reporters "the mosquito is not stronger than the entire country".

Latin America may receive emergency vaccines by the end of the year, even though experts believe a legalized vaccine is still ten years away. If the disease spreads as widely as anticipated, countries with strict anti-abortion laws such as El Salvador may require a policy change.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos carry the disease. The head of infection and immuno-biology at the Wellcome Trust, Mike Turner expresses concern with the Zika Virus affecting pregnant women.

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