Photos: The Zika virus spreads
The Zika virus continues its spread across Latin America and the Caribbean. Researchers in Brazil found evidence that suggests it’s only getting worse, evolving into a new form more likely to impair brain cells.
There’s now no doubt it’s causing catastrophic birth defects, including microcephaly – marked by a small head and brain damage that permanently disables babies. Women at all stages of pregnancy are vulnerable, and governments are struggling to fight the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread Zika and related viruses such as dengue.
Spraying isn’t enough and some countries are trying high-tech approaches such as genetically engineered mosquitoes that lay dud eggs, as well as low-tech approaches like mosquito traps and nets.
There’s no treatment and a vaccine is years away. In the meantime, the best protection is to avoid mosquito bites, with repellent, clothing and by staying inside, the experts say.
Millions will be infected, the World Health Organization warns. Most people who get it won’t even get sick. But for the babies with birth defects and their families, years of struggle lie ahead. Here, a look at those who live with the virus every day, both fighting its spread and coping with its effects.