Zika researchers warn of continued spread in Latin America

Researchers believe that the Zika virus could continue to spread in Latin America.

Although the first case of the Zika virus in Colombia was confirmed in October of 2015, thousands of cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been reported across Latin America.

Researchers from the Universidad de Sucre in Colombia teamed up with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to run the tests that discovered the virus. The team published its findings in the journal Emerging Infections Diseases.

"Colombia is now only second to Brazil in the number of known Zika infections," Matthew Aliota, research scientist at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), said.

According to the researchers, the disease, which started with nine patients, has now spread to more than 13,000. The fever is especially potent against pregnant women as it can cause microcephaly.

"If you're pregnant or planning on being pregnant, absolutely cancel your vacation," Aliota said.

The disease could potentially cause more issues as it spreads. Not a lot is known about the virus, whose symptoms can often overlap with other diseases and viruses.

"Historically, Zika virus has just caused mild disease, but as it moved into the New World, in Brazil, we started to notice these more serious consequences associated with it," Aliota said. "There is a lot that is unknown."

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University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 53706

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