The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new warning on the mosquito-borne Zika virus, saying that “the more we know the worse things look”.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said that in less than a year, the status of Zika has changed from “a mild medical curiosity” to a disease with severe public health implications.

She said “The virus is currently circulating in 38 countries and territories. On present knowledge, no one can predict whether the virus will spread to other parts of the world and cause a similar pattern of fetal malformations and neurological disorders.”

“If this pattern is confirmed beyond Latin America and the Caribbean, the world will face a severe public health crisis,” Chan warned.

She said “The association with Guillain-Barré syndrome and other severe disorders of the central nervous system has expanded the risk group well beyond women of child-bearing age. We now know that sexual transmission of the virus occurs.”

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