Meliodosis and Zika Virus
Boxes of genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are displayed to the media before being released in Piracicaba, Brazil April 30, 2015. British biotechnology company Oxitec said its laboratory created the genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a specially-made gene to reduce the numbers of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by killing their offspring. Brazil already has more than 460,000 cases of people with dengue in 2015, according to the City Department of Health. Reuters/Paulo Whitaker

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is predicting that the Zika virus would likely spread in the America and even reach all countries where the insect responsible for its transmission, the Aedes mosquito, could be found. The WHO expands its fast spread to South, Central and North America’s population lacking immunity due to not being previously exposed to the virus.

The health organisation notes that except for Canada and continental Chile, the Aedes mosquito is present in all countries of the Americas, reports The Washington Post. In the US, at least a dozen cases had been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the worst hit by the virus is Brazil where more than 1 million cases had been recorded the past few months. But beyond the mild fever and skin rah as well as sore eyes and muscle or joint pain, what is alarming in Brazil is some Brazilian babies exposed to Zika suffer from deformed heads.

Reuters reports that babies born with microcephaly, a neurological complication, is linked to the virus carried by the Aedes mosquito. The biggest number of Brazilian infants suffering from the complication are found in the state of Pernambuco where more than 1,000 cases were reported in the past few months.

Besides Zika, Aedes – which Brazil has been battling for years – is also the carrier of other ailments that caused epidemic in the South American nation. These include dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and other tropical diseases.

The rash of babies born with microcephaly has caught Brazilian doctors by surprise. Maria de Gloria Teixeira, director of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health, bewails the lack of resources to prevent the spread of the virus or stop the insect which thrives in tropical climates, worsened by poor sanitation and bad construction of homes in dense cities.

Brazilian authorities are now acting fast because some of the babies have brain damage. Brazilian health officials are planning to craft an agreement with the National Institutes of Health in the US to develop a Zika vaccine.