More about the virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that up to four million people could be infected by the end of the year and with no clear vaccine or medication to stop Zika, it only looks set to spread further.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which is active during the day and night, and is the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, yellow fever and Chinkungunya viruses.
Symptoms from the virus are usually mild; however concern has grown around a strongly suspected link between the Zika virus in pregnant women and microcephaly in their babies. Microcephaly is a rare condition which affects a baby’s brain development in the womb and leaves them with abnormally small heads.
Though a link has not yet been proven, local health authorities in Brazil have observed an alarming increase in cases of microcephaly at the same time as the outbreak of the virus.
Around 4,000 cases of suspected microcephaly have been reported in Brazil since October.
The last time a global public health emergency was announced was following the outbreak of the Ebola virus.