The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the rise in Zika-linked birth defects an international emergency. It also warned that Zika could infect up to four million people in the Americas and spread worldwide.
Amid these reports, more than 22,600 cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Colombia, which is seeing a sharp increase in a rare neurological disorder linked to the disease, said authorities.
‘More than 22,600 cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Colombia. The country is seeing a sharp increase in a rare neurological disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome which linked to the disease.’
The news comes one day after Colombia, the country hit the second-hardest by the mosquito-borne disease after Brazil, announced three deaths which it blamed on Zika.
The patients died after contracting the virus and developing the rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome, according to Colombia's National Health Institute (INS).
On Saturday, after a meeting with health officials, President Juan Manuel Santos said that cases of Guillain-Barre were up 66%.
Although most Guillain-Barre patients recover, the syndrome sometimes causes paralysis and can even be deadly.
Meanwhile, while Brazil has seen a surge in babies born with Zika-linked microcephaly, or abnormally small heads and brains, Colombia has not, Santos reported. He also said, "There is not a single case of a baby with microcephaly coming from a woman who has Zika."
A report released by the INS indicated that 25,645 cases of the Zika disease were reported across the entire country as of the fourth week of January. Of these, 22,612 have been confirmed and 3,033 are only suspected cases.