Down to Earth

Zika threat: Solving the global puzzle

In a matter of months the Zika virus has gone from a relatively unknown ailment to what the World Health Organization now calls a "global emergency". The mosquito-borne virus is expected to infect up to four million people by the end of the year. Despite all the warnings, very little is confirmed about the disease's consequences and how best to stop its spread.

A race is on around the world to bring the first Zika vaccine to the market, but it might come too late. In countries at high risk of Zika, women have been told to avoid falling pregnant, in case babies are born with the birth defect microcephaly. But in South America, where the disease is most prevalent, abortion is often illegal and access to contraception sometimes limited. Communities and scientists are trying to find new, innovative ways to combat the spread of the disease. 

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