One of the most recent states of emergency was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the outbreak and possible pandemic of the Zika Virus, which has a suspected connection to birth defects.
The Zika Virus is an outbreak of a flu-like illness caused by the Zika mosquito. It was first detected in Brazil during May of 2015 and it has now been transmitted to over twenty countries all over Latin America including Jamaica and Costa Rica. Two cases have been reported in the United States. The main concern about contracting this virus is that it is linked to microcephaly. This condition will cause a baby to be born have a very small head and brain damage. These types of cases of microcephaly have reported extreme increases in numbers for Brazil and 4000 cases have been reported since October, 2015. Some people have very mild symptoms and others become extremely ill.
The Director General of WHO has said that microcephaly and the Zika Virus connection is quite cloudy and that this connection does put a great burden on pregnant women. The Director General also stated that the state of emergency would allow everyone to be warned and increase the need for research and an antibody. Research is underway in El Salvador, Colombia, and Brazil in regards to the effects of this virus on pregnant women.
At the beginning of February, 2016, doctors determined the 2 cases in the U.S. were due to sexual contact with a person who had visited a South American country and contracted the disease. People are being warned about travelling to South and Central American countries and a severe warning is being issued to pregnant women.