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5 New Things You Need To Know About Zika Virus

Zika virus, which is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito, is the suspected culprit behind a wave of birth defects in Brazil. The illness continues to spread across Central and South America and the Caribbean, and now cases are cropping up all over the world through people who traveled to affected regions.  With the high volume of news about the Zika virus -- check out our full coverage here -- it's tough to stay up-to-date on the most recent developments. Here's the latest information you should know:

1. New cases of Zika have been confirmed in the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Germany, and Britain.

While there's no official tally on U.S. cases of Zika, Minnesota, Texas, Hawaii, Florida and Illinois have all reported individuals who acquired the disease while traveling overseas. So far, there have not been any cases of Zika contracted on American or European soil.

2. Despite evidence of illness, the Venezuelan government won't release Zika statistics.

Meanwhile in Venezuela, medical professionals are up in arms because the government confirmed the presence of Zika in the country, but hasn't released statistics about how widespread the virus is there. Venezuela borders Brazil, where more than 4,000 babies have recently been born with microcephaly, a birth defect that's suspected to be linked to Zika.
The Venezuelan Society of Public Health estimates that there could be 400,000 cases of Zika in the country based on fevers reported in the last six months,according to the Associated Press.

3. Though Zika is present, Mexican officials say there is "no justification" for delaying pregnancy.

Mexican officials say that the 18 cases of Zika in the country aren't enough of a reason for Mexican women to delay pregnancy, Reuters reports. This stands in contrast to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica, where health officials have have recommended that women delay pregnancy, if possible. 

4. A virologist says Zika is "not a very important disease" in the country where it was discovered.

Julius Lutwama, a virologist with the Uganda Virus Research Institute, told the Associated Press that there has never been a known outbreak of Zika in Uganda -- where the virus was discovered in monkeys in 1947 -- and that mosquito-transmitted malaria is a more pressing problem for Ugandans. 

5. President Obama has called for rapid research on Zika.

The virus could naturally spread to the United States once the weather warms up, and Obama wants health officials to develop treatments and vaccines to fight Zika as soon as possible. 

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