The World Health Organisation (WHO) is having an emergency meeting today to discuss the continuing Zika virus outbreak in the Americas. The mosquito-borne virus has spread to 22 countries within North and South America.
Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a serious developmental disorder where babies are born with small heads. In Brazil, there have been over 4,000 case of microcephaly since October 2015. Normally, Brazil would see approximately 150 cases a year.
The WHO can recommend placing travel restrictions to and from infected countries, among a wide range of infection control measures. With London as a major business and travel hub, any future restrictions would likely have some impact on the capital.
Those who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant should seek advice from a medical professional before travelling to countries affected by the Zika virus (click here to find a list.)
Those with chronic medical conditions, or who have a weakened immune system, are also advised to talk to a medical professional. Pregnant women who have recently travelled to any of the countries on the above list are advised to inform their obstetrician or midwife.
UPDATE: The WHO has declared the Zika virus pandemic an international health emergency. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, said: “The recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”
Subedited by Kip Dudden