Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America has tweeted a damning picture to highlight the lack of global understanding there is around the Zika virus.
Entire world literature on Zika. 50 years of neglect. pic.twitter.com/iX7zbJSTC5— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) February 12, 2016
Testifying before politicians in Washington, Dr Frieden warned that a vaccine could be 'years away' while a WHO official has confirmed that broad trials are expected to be at least 18 months away at the earliest.
Zika has gained public prominance after an outbreak in South America has started to spiral out of control. While it symptoms are mild for most, the virus can have a devastating impact on pregnant women and their unborn children.
One of the major side-effects of contracting the virus while pregnant is that it will be passed onto the baby causing a very particular symptom known as Microcephaly.
Microcephaly is a birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and neurological abnormalities.
There are believed to be over 4,000 cases of this condition in newborn children, a drastic increase in numbers prompting the World Health Organisation to declare Zika to be a global emergency.
- Zika Virus: Pregnant Women Advised To Reconsider Travel To Brazil And 14 Other Countries
- Zika Virus: British Pregnant Women Who have Travelled To Infected Countries Advised To Have Ultrasounds
- British Couples Exposed To Zika Virus Warned Not To Try For A Baby
- Zika Virus Outbreak Linked To Severe Brain Damage In Babies And Sparks Pregnancy Warning From Health Officials
Countries have started issuing warnings to travellers and tourists while South American countries have begun a massive campaign to both rid the worst hit areas of the mosquitos that can transmit it and also to educate the population after it was discovered that the virus can be transmitted through sexual activity.
There is currently no known vaccine for the virus, instead countries can only implement preventative measures to try and stem the spread of the infection.
Outside of South America there have been a handful of confirmed cases of Zika in the United States and in Ireland.
Zachary Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human services, said in a statement: "Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others.
"Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually transmitted infections."
A warning from the Foreign Office, recommends women who are pregnant, or who are planning on becoming pregnant, to avoid travelling to countries where outbreaks have been confirmed.
The full list of countries is as follows: Barbados, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, US Virgin Islands, and Paraguay.