Although the mosquito-borne virus's symptoms are relatively mild, it is believed to be linked to a surge in cases of microcephaly, a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain.
The UN health agency warned last week that the mosquito-borne virus was "spreading explosively" in the Americas, with the region expected to see up to four million cases this year. The WHO is under pressure to act quickly in the fight against Zika, after admitting it was slow to respond to the recent Ebola outbreak that ravaged parts of west Africa.
In light of this, here's a look back the similar outbreaks that took the world by storm:
The Ebola virus disease, a fatal disease transmitted from animals to humans, caused havoc in West Africa. It was reported in Guinea in 2014, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the largest outbreak of Ebola ever reported and according to WHO reports, claimed 11,316 lives.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MERS. "is a viral respiratory illness that is new to humans. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States. Most people infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath". WHO reports that there have been 1,633 deaths globally so far.
Swine flu or the H1N1 virus, a form of influenza that affects pigs that also affects humans. In 2009 the WHO had declared it a pandemic after a new strain of the virus spread across the world after an initial outbreak in Veracruz, Mexico. The official number of deaths recorded across the world was 14,286.
Bird flu is a type of influenza that affects birds and can, in some cases, can affect humans. The H5N1 virus had an outbreak in India in 2006, with the first cases reported in Nandurbar, Maharashtra. This affected the poultry industry in and around the area. Reuters had reported in 2014 that the virus could be transmitted to humans. It quoted Director General of World Organisation for Animal Health Bernard Vallat saying that since 2006, India had culled 6.4 million birds because of bird flu.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS is another respiratory disease that was first reported in the Guangdong province of China in 2002. Since then it spread across the world bringing it to public spotlight in 2003. According to The Huffington Post, SARS spread to 30 countries but disappeared as fast it had spread. According to the report it came from a species of bats, found in Asia, parts of Europe and North Africa, that could pass the virus into mammals. According to WHO, there were 774 deaths reported across the world from the pandemic.
First Published On : Feb 1, 2016 18:13 IST