Some countries in Latin America, El Salvador in particular, have started advising women to put forward plans for pregnancy, rather than make abortions more readily available.
Poor women in countries of Latin America do not have much access to family planning and many cannot even afford to buy insect repellent to help avoid the Zika virus, which is caused by mosquito bites.
Brazil is the worst-hit among countries where the virus have been heavily reported where botched abortions in undercover clinics are already a major cause of maternal death, reports VOA News.
Daniel Becker, a paediatrician and a public health expert in Rio de Janeiro told Reuters, per VOA News that, “Zika is a health catastrophe and a terrifying menace for pregnant women. People will look for an abortion.”
The World Health Organization, WHO is holding an emergency meeting today (Monday) to decide on whether the disease should be rated a global health crisis.
Though, the link between Zika and microcephaly is strongly being suspected, it remains just what it is as there is no proof to that effect at the moment. However, the cause of the deformity, which affects the size of the head of newborn, is being investigated.
However, cases of the normally rare birth defect are not 10 times higher than normal.
“The real problem is that trying to develop a vaccine that would have to be tested on pregnant women is a practical and ethical nightmare,” Mike Turner, head of infection and immunobiology at the Wellcome Trust, told The Guardian newspaper, per VOA News.
The World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pan American Health Organization warn that the virus is spreading rapidly through the Americas and could affect as many as 4 million people.
Dr. Peter Hotez told the Examiner newspaper that the Zika outbreak in Brazil poses a “far greater threat to the United States than Ebola,” A Zika outbreak has “never been seen on this scale,” Hotez said, despite its prevalence in Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands.
More on Zika
Zika is a viral illness spread from human to human through the bite of a mosquito. Two species of mosquito are known to carry the virus, the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito; both species are however, found in the Americas.
The Yellow Fever mosquito can be found along the Gulf Coast of the United States while the Asian Tiger mosquito can be found as far north as New York City.
Several countries have started issuing travel warnings to their citizens. Health officials in several Asian countries have advised travellers, pregnant women especially, to avoid trips to Central and South America.
The United States is not left out as it has also issued travel warnings to pregnant women against travelling to areas with Zika virus outbreaks. The warning was issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.