An Aedes Aegypti mosquito is photographed in a laboratory of control of epidemiological vectors in San Salvador, on January 27, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Marvin RECINOS / AFP / Marvin RECINOS
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The Zika virus is "spreading explosively" in the Americas and the region may see up to four million cases of the disease strongly suspected of causing birth defects, the World Health Organization said Thursday.As the number of suspected cases of microcephaly – thought to be linked to the virus – surged in Brazil, WHO head Margaret Chan said an emergency committee would meet on Monday to determine whether the Zika outbreak amounts to a global health emergency and how the world should respond. For decades after Zika was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 the mosquito-borne virus was of little concern, sporadically causing "mild" illness in human populations.There have not yet been any cases of local transmission of Zika virus within the United States, although infected travelers have returned to the country after visiting other areas.However, a recent study in The Lancet suggests that Zika virus could reach regions of the United States in which 60 percent of the population lives, or some 200 million Americans.
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