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World Health Organization Says Zika Virus Could Explode Into A Global Pandemic

On Jan. 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the Zika virus has “explosive pandemic potential” and could infect up to four million people.

The mosquito-borne virus is currently spreading throughout the Americas, the Daily Mail reports.

Many worry about what this might mean for the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

In 2015, nearly 4,000 babies were born with unusually small heads in Brazil as a result of the virus. Pregnant women are now urged not to visit countries currently affected by the virus.

Authorities estimate Brazil could have up to one million infections now, according to The Guardian.

There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the illness.

“This is different from Ebola – that vaccine had been in development for many years,” Dr. Amesh Adalja told the Daily Mail.

“There wasn't any vaccine development being undertaken prior to this outbreak in Brazil," Adalja added. "It will be quite a while – and this is on the scale of about a decade for a vaccine to be developed usually."

The virus is expected to continue spreading in 2016 due to el Nino weather patterns and other factors that affect the mosquito population.

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(CDC's map showing the global spread of the Zika Virus. Photo Credit: CDC via Daily Mail)

These concerns are why scientists Daniel R. Lucey and Lawrence O. Gostin wrote that an emergency committee should be quickly assembled to determine if the crisis should be labeled a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

 “A national declaration of a public health emergency can focus political attention, while financing a surge in resources,” they added, according to the Daily Mail.

WHO has currently set up measures to fight the virus from spreading, which include killing the mosquitos that carry the virus.

While many people with the Zika virus experience no symptoms, some can catch fevers, experience rashes and joint pains, as well as get red eyes.

Sources: The Daily MailThe Guardian / Photo Credit: CDC via The Daily Mail, John Tann/Flickr

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