Zika Virus Symptoms, Treatment & Update: 31 People Infected in US; Vaccine Underway

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Jan 30, 2016 06:40 AM EST

At least 31 people have been infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the United States.

All these victims reportedly contracted the disease after travelling to affected countries. Three of them are pregnant, ABC News detailed. Recently, the virus has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly. Over 4,000 cases of microcephaly were recorded in Brazil alone.

The 31 Zika cases in the US were recorded in 11 states and in Washington, D.C. A 32nd case in Hawaii has yet to be confirmed.

The 11 US states are: Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois, and Massachusetts (via CNN). No local transmission of the virus has been reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 20 countries/territories where Zika transmission is active -- Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Samoa, and Cape Verde.

CDC says more Zika cases among travelers are expected and local transmission in some US states can also happen.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday announced that an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee will meet on Monday (February 1) "to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern."

"WHO's Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO) has been working closely with affected countries since May 2015. PAHO has mobilized staff and members of the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) to assist ministries of health in strengthening their abilities to detect the arrival and circulation of Zika virus through laboratory testing and rapid reporting," the statement read.

The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The first Zika virus outbreak was recorded in 2007.

Zika symptoms are very similar to that of dengue and chikungunya -- fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache. These symptoms usually last for several days or a week. People with the following symptoms are advised to rest, drink fluids, and take medicines that can relieve pain and fever. All people diagnosed with Zika virus are asked to avoid mosquito bites to hinder the spread of the disease.

While there is still no vaccine available for Zika infection, WHO stressed that it will "prioritize the development" of such treatment.

Reuters reported that Zika vaccines can be available "before year-end". If a human testing in August turns out to be successful, says Gary Kobinger of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, then the Zika vaccine could be available as early as October or November.

Learn more about the Zika virus:

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