The Zika virus suspected of causing grave brain damage in newborns is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue fever and the chikungunya virus. It provokes flu-like symptoms including a low-grade fever, headaches, joint pain and rashes.
Zika is present in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, suggested the WHO experts. Guatemalan health officials said Saturday, January 30, 2016, that at least 105 people there had been infected with Zika.
‘Guatemala's Health Ministry epidemiologist Judith Garcia reported that 105 confirmed cases of Zika virus emerged from a total of 200 suspected cases, 68 of them from 2015.’
Health Ministry epidemiologist Judith Garcia told the newspaper Prensa Libre that the 105 confirmed cases emerged from a total of 200 suspected cases, 68 of them from 2015.
Garcia said, "For each confirmed case, there may be three more patients who have not come forward or who are asymptomatic, meaning the ultimate numbers could be much larger. Guatemala's humid climate is quite favorable to the virus."
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that the virus is spreading explosively in the Americas, with three million to four million cases expected this year.
Hardest-hit so far has been Brazil, with more than 1.5 million cases since April.
Health authorities there are investigating the possible linkage between Zika and more than 3,400 suspected cases of microcephaly - abnormally small skulls and brains - in babies born to infected mothers.
Colombia announced that it has 20,297 cases of Zika infection, including 2,116 in expectant mothers.