The Zika virus has has caused alarm due to an observed association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. The number of babies with microcephaly has surged since a Zika outbreak sweeping Latin America was detected in 2015. The virus usually causes mild symptoms in adults, with a low fever, headaches and joint pain. There is currently no vaccine for Zika.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has dispatched a team to Cape Verde to monitor the Zika virus outbreak following the west African archipelago's first recorded microcephaly case. The WHO said in a statement that it was sending a team of epidemiologists, maternal health specialists and communication staff at the request of the government. "WHO is sending a team to Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), with joint participation of experts from WHO AFRO and the Institut Pasteur, Dakar," it said, referring to a Senegal-based infectious disease center.
It follows Cape Verde's announcement of the first appearance of microcephaly on the islands, a severe deformation of the brains of infants whose link with the mosquito-borne Zika virus is under close study.
"Investigations are underway to determine if this case of microcephaly is linked to Cabo Verde's outbreak of Zika virus," the WHO statement said.
Brazil has been hardest hit by Zika, with some 1.5 million people infected and 745 confirmed cases of the syndrome. Affected countries are focusing on wiping out mosquito populations in an effort to curb its spread.