WHO emergency committee to meet on Zika on Feb 1

GENEVA The Zika virus is strongly suspected of causing birth defects and may infect 3-4 million people in the Americas, including 1.5 million in Brazil, a World Health Organization expert said on Thursday.

Marcos Espinal, head of communicable diseases at PAHO — the WHO’s Americas arm — said a study would soon be published suggesting a correlation between Zika and microcephaly — babies born with small heads and brains — in Brazil.

“We don’t know yet if this virus crosses the placenta and generates or causes microcephaly. We think it plays a role. There’s no doubt about that,” he told the WHO’s executive board meeting in Geneva.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay and John Stonestreet)

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