The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The disease, which has been spreading in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a recent cluster in Brazil, is linked to congenital malformations and neurological complications - in particular microcephaly, a congenital malformation that means babies are born with abnormally small heads and may suffer from delayed brain development.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes, and currently there is no vaccine.
The explosive spread of the virus is causing concern for travel in the Americas, and even concern over the forthcoming Olympics in Rio.
In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.
Some doctors in certain areas are advising women to delay getting pregnant.
As there is no treatment for the virus, the advise currently stands at prevention of mosquito bites. Health officials advise people to:
- Use insect repellents
- Cover up with long-sleeved clothes
- Keep windows and doors closed
For more information visit the WHO website.
Photo: Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock