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WHO: Zika Virus Expected to Spread in the Asia-Pacific Region

  • VOA News

This 2016 digitally-colorized electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus, in red, about 40 nanometers in diameter.

This 2016 digitally-colorized electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus, in red, about 40 nanometers in diameter.

The Zika virus is expected to spread in the Asia-Pacific region, the World Health Organization warned in its recent report released Monday.

The report comes as hundreds of cases have been reported in Singapore and two babies in Thailand have been diagnosed with Zika-linked microcephaly.

The WHO report, released at the annual regional meeting in Manila, said the virus was "highly likely to further spread in the region" which includes China, Japan, Australia, most Southeast Asian nations and the Pacific islands.

The director for health security and emergencies at WHO's western Pacific regional office, Dr. Li Ailan, said Zika symptoms are mild and no deaths have been reported globally.

Meanwhile, authorities in the region are increasing surveillance, preparing responses to complications of the disease and collaborating on information-sharing, WHO said.

The complications include microcephaly, a birth defect where the head is abnormally small and brains might not have developed properly. They also include Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

The western Pacific region is the second most Zika-affected region in the world, Li said. Nineteen of its 27 countries have reported Zika cases since 2007 and 13 of them this year.

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