Written by Staff Writer
02 Sep, 2016 | 7:36 am
More than two billion people, over a third of the global population, could be at risk from Zika virus outbreaks in parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, according to scientists writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
These are people who reside in as-yet unaffected parts of the world with the right climate and abundant mosquitoes for the virus to settle, spread and propagate an epidemic like the one besetting the Americas and Caribbean, they said.
They used data on air traveler numbers to help model their predictions.
However, they acknowledge that immunity to the virus could already exist in some areas and could reduce the risk.
The research team looked at factors such as the numbers of people who travelled from Zika-affected areas in South America to Africa and Asia, the presence of mosquitoes that can pass on the virus, and the climate in the regions to assess which countries could be most at risk from an outbreak.
In an outbreak that started mid-2015, more than 1.5 million people have been infected with Zika in Brazil, and more than 1,600 babies born with abnormally small heads and brains. Seventy countries and territories have reported local mosquito-borne Zika transmission, with Brazil by far the hardest hit.
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